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What is chickenpox?
Varicella Zoster, also known as chickenpox, is a common viral infection usually caught in childhood. It’s highly contagious and is spread through coughing, sneezing, and direct contact.
Who is at risk from chickenpox?
Whilst chickenpox can affect all ages, it’s most commonly caught in childhood. Symptoms do generally get worse with age however, often requiring time off from school, childcare or work.
To protect those who are most vulnerable to chickenpox, the NHS recommend, and offer, the chickenpox vaccine to healthcare workers, laboratory workers in direct contact with the virus, and those who are in close contact with someone with a weakened immune system (such as a sibling of a chemotherapy patient living in the same household).
The symptoms of chickenpox include areas of red, itchy spots with visible blisters that dry up and form scabs, loss of appetite, fever, aches and pains. Sufferers can be contagious a few days before visible symptoms appear.
Fortunately, chickenpox and its symptoms usually only last a week, and it’s very rare to get chickenpox twice.
Most people with chickenpox won’t need to see their GP, but in a small number of cases there can be complications and more serious reactions. Every year, there are approximately 2,200 chickenpox related hospital admissions and 20 deaths in England and Wales, most commonly in those who contract the infection.
By the age of 12, over 90 percent of the UK population will have had chickenpox. Once you’ve had the virus, the chance of getting it again is very low, however, it can come back later in life in the form of shingles.
How can Boots help?
The NHS currently offers a chickenpox vaccination to certain vulnerable groups, protecting those who are most at risk.
The Boots Chickenpox Vaccination Service is available to those seeking protection from the chickenpox virus, including those who are eligible through the NHS but choose a private vaccination service.
If our Chickenpox Vaccination Service is suitable, you will receive two vaccinations at a minimum of six weeks apart. If you, or your child, had a first dose of chickenpox vaccination at a different provider, you can still have your second dose at Boots, providing you meet all the eligibility criteria for the Boots service.
Who is the Boots Chickenpox Vaccination Service suitable for?
The service is suitable for both adults and children aged between one and 65 years inclusive at the time of the first vaccination.
The service is not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone with a weakened immune system, or anyone who has had an allergic reaction to any previous vaccination. The service is also not suitable for anyone who has received the MMR vaccine in the previous four weeks. Your pharmacist will check suitability during the consultation.
Which Boots pharmacies offer the Chickenpox Vaccination Service?
The Boots Chickenpox Vaccination Service is available in selected Boots pharmacies. Find your nearest pharmacy offering the service.
Whilst vaccinations shouldn’t cause too much discomfort, the injected area can become swollen and red. You may also develop a fever (a temperature over 37.5°C), so it’s a good idea to check your, or your child’s, temperature regularly with a thermometer and use age-appropriate paracetamol if needed.
On rare occasions, people who have received the chickenpox vaccine can transmit the infection to others. If you’re very likely to come into contact with pregnant women or those with a weakened immune system, you should avoid any such contact during the period between vaccinations and for four to six weeks after the second dose.
This is particularly important if you develop a rash within four to six weeks of the first or second dose and, should this occur, contact must be avoided until the rash has completely disappeared. This is because more vulnerable people can develop serious complications if they catch chickenpox.
If you or your child currently have chickenpox, or have recently been exposed to chickenpox, our pharmacy team can provide advice and recommend products, such as lotions and pain relief to help ease the symptoms.
If you’re an adult with chickenpox, we recommend you speak to a pharmacist who may refer you to your GP because of the risk of complications in adulthood.
If you’re experiencing any of the following, please see your GP urgently:
• If you’re pregnant, haven’t had chickenpox before and you’ve been near someone with it
• If you or your child have a weakened immune system and have been near someone with chickenpox
• If you think your newborn baby has chickenpox
• If there are symptoms of a bacterial skin infection (such as if the skin around the blisters looks red and/or feels hot and painful)
• If you’re concerned you or your child have become dehydrated
What happens at the appointment?
Book an appointment at a participating Boots pharmacy
Receive the first dose of the vaccination (if suitable) after a pharmacist consultation
Return for a second dose of the vaccination at least six weeks later
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What else do I need to know before the appointment?
Children under the age of two will typically be vaccinated in the thigh, and anyone over the age of two will usually be vaccinated in the arm. However, the pharmacist will use their judgement in each case to decide whether to vaccinate in the thigh or arm. Therefore, it’s helpful for you or your child to wear loose fitting clothing and short sleeves that can be rolled up.
If a child is being vaccinated, try to stay calm as young children can be nervous about vaccinations, and try to leave plenty of time before the appointment. You'll be asked to stay behind for five minutes after each injection to make sure there are no immediate reactions to the vaccination.
The Chickenpox Vaccination Service costs £140 if you buy the full course of two vaccines together at the first appointment or £75 per dose if purchased separately. Book your appointment today.