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Varivax, a two-dose vaccine for chickenpox, is highly recommended for healthy children, adolescents, and adults who did not have the disease during childhood. A chickenpox vaccine was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995 and is widely available. A combination measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) vaccine was licensed in the United States in 2005 and may be administered to children 4 years of age and older. (It is not recommended for younger children due to a rare possibility of a seizure associated with a fever as a side effect of the vaccine.)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all healthy children 12 months through 12 years of age receive two doses of chickenpox vaccine, administered at least three months apart. Children who have evidence of immunity to varicella do not need the vaccine. Those aged 13 and over who do not have evidence of immunity should get two doses of the vaccine four to eight weeks apart.
When fully immunized, the vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective in preventing childhood cases of chickenpox. A small percentage of newly immunized people will develop a mild rash. Pregnant women and infants younger than 1 year of age should not be vaccinated.
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