Chickenpox for Adults

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a highly contagious and common illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Symptoms of chickenpox present as an incredibly itchy rash comprised of small red blisters. Chickenpox spreads by breathing in particles from the blisters, and is most contagious within the first two days of the rash. Signs of chickenpox appear ten days to three weeks after exposure to the virus.

Can adults get chickenpox?

Yes, adults can get chickenpox. 

Even though chickenpox is most commonly seen in children, it can affect people of any age, even adults. In fact, chickenpox can lead to serious heath problems for adults and pregnant women, producing potentially fatal symptoms and complications such as:

  • Joint inflammation
  • Skin infections
  • Shingles 
  • Bleeding issues
  • Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)
  • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)

Adults with weakened immune systems are more likely to show complications from chickenpox. Death from chickenpox is rare but can potentially occur in both unvaccinated children and adults. 

How to prevent chickenpox

The easiest way to reduce the chances of contracting chickenpox as an adult is through vaccination. Vaccination reduces the chances of getting chickenpox by 94 percent, and those who receive the vaccination within three days of being exposed have a 90 percent chance of avoiding the illness. Those who still contract chickenpox after receiving the vaccine show much milder symptoms and a dramatically shorter duration of those symptoms.

Teens and unvaccinated adults should receive two doses for the vaccine at least four weeks apart for it to be effective.

However, you should avoid vaccination as an adult if you:

  • Are ill at the time of the vaccination
  • Have an allergic reaction to gelatin or neomycin
  • Are pregnant

Is the chickenpox vaccine safe?

The chickenpox vaccine for adults is a very safe and effective way to prevent chickenpox. And it’s important for both children and adults to get vaccinated to reduce their chances of contracting the illness. Allergic reactions in adults may occur and side effects are rare but may include:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea 
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea 

Where can you get vaccinated?

Pharmaca offers chickenpox vaccines for adults and for kids at all Pharmaca locations. We also offer most other vaccines that are important for all preventable illnesses in children and adults. Contact your local to schedule an appointment.