Should Adults Get a Chicken Pox Vaccine?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

Ask the experts

I'm a 28-year-old adult who has never had chickenpox. How dangerous is it to contract the disease as an adult? Should I get the vaccine?

Doctor's response

Chickenpox tends to be more severe in adults than children.

Pneumonia, a particularly serious complication of chickenpox, is far more frequent in adults. About 1 in every 5 adults with chickenpox develops pneumonia. The pneumonia is directly due to the varicella-zoster virus, the cause of chickenpox. There is typically fever, cough, and trouble breathing. Sharp chest pain on breathing (due to pleurisy) is frequent. So is spitting up blood (hemoptysis). Some patients have persistent fever and pulmonary problems for weeks on end.

The Varivax vaccine is "indicated for vaccination against varicella (chickenpox) in individuals 12 months of age and older." Pregnant women should not get the vaccine.

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