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What are the chances of getting chicken pox after vaccination?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
Answered : 1579 Questions

I had chicken pox when I was 26 years old.
I came to know from friends and family that once you get chicken pox,
you become immune to it and you can't catch it again.
Now after 4 years, I recently found out that 2 of my colleagues
who had earlier have had chicken-pox have again caught it - most likely
from some-one at my office.

Now I am worried whether I also have a susceptibility to catching chicken-pox

1. From a medical point of view, what are the chances that a person having got
chicken-pox earlier gets it again ? What do you recommend - should I get vaccinated again with a chicken-pox vaccine ?

2. If yes, how many shots of vaccine may be needed to build my immunity to chicken-pox ?
I have normal good health but are there any medical conditions which prohibit taking
chicken-pox vaccine ?

3. I am also worried about my wife's susceptibility to catching chicken-pox.
My wife had a vaccine when I had got chicken-pox but as far as she remembers, she
got only one shot of the vaccine (not 2 shots as some doctors recommend)
Also we are planning to have a baby in near future- so considering that, should my
wife get the remaining shot of chicken-pox vaccine before conception, that she did not get while getting vaccinated
for the first time ?

Posted Wed, 30 May 2012 in Infections
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 2 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.

I can understand your concern but once chicken pox occurs, it provides life long immunity. What your colleague had was shingles. Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in people who have had chickenpox and represents a reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus.

You may get herpes zoster infection and you may transmit the virus to a person who has never had chicken pox.

Regarding chicken pox vaccine, it is recommended for all children under the age of 13 who have not had chickenpox. It is also recommended for all adolescents and adults who have not been vaccinated and have not had chickenpox. If you have had chickenpox there is no need for you to get the vaccine. Prevention of shingles in people who have contracted chickenpox is difficult, since the factors that trigger reactivation are not yet defined. Moreover shingles vaccine is given in adults 60 years or older.

Your wife should talk to her doctor and get the second dose of the vaccine before she becomes pregnant. Chicken pox vaccine is contraindicated in pregnancy as it is a live vaccine. So she should get vaccinated earlier.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you good health.

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