While chickenpox was once thought to be an expected childhood illness, with some parents even hosting "pox parties" to help their child catch it and get it over with, the release of a vaccine in 1995 has significantly reduced the instances of this virus. However, the vaccine is typically administered at one year with a booster a few years later, and many adults who were born before 1995 never received it. For those who never contracted chickenpox and fall in the age group before the vaccine was standard, there are a few things you should know.
You May Not Be Immune
Many adults wrongly assume that if they never contracted the virus, it's because they are immune already and therefore don't need the vaccine. This may not actually be the case. If you never had occasion to be exposed to the virus, you might have just never caught it. That doesn't mean you cannot catch chickenpox as an adult. Symptoms of the virus can be far worse for adults, so it's important that you take steps to avoid it. You can have your doctor test you for immunity to see if you may benefit from the vaccine.
Your Immunized Children May Expose You
For those who have never contracted chickenpox, never been vaccinated, and don't carry immunity, having children vaccinated can inadvertently expose you to the virus. The chickenpox vaccine is made from a live strain of the virus, and as your child's body builds immunities in response to that vaccine, they may shed virus cells that can lead to exposure for you as their caregiver. If you have children, it's important that you have an immunity test and seek the chickenpox vaccine at the same time that your child receives that first shot. This can help protect you from contracting the virus.
The Vaccine Is Safe
One of the things that many people worry about is the safety of the vaccine, particularly because it is a live virus vaccine. The fact is that live virus vaccines meet strict safety standards and rarely cause serious problems for those with healthy immune systems. In fact, your doctor can advise you of the expected side effects and other important things you should know before getting the vaccine.
Vaccines are often the most effective way to protect your health and avoid serious diseases such as chickenpox. Talk with your doctor today about your immunity status and the possibility of a vaccine.
For more information about immunizations, contact a doctor.