Why get immunised against chickenpox?

Chickenpox (also called varicella) is usually a mild disease that doesn’t last long in children, but it can be more severe, particularly in adults.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect you from a serious case of the disease. The chickenpox vaccine also protects you from getting shingles later in life.

By getting vaccinated against chickenpox, you can also help protect other people, especially people who are too sick or too young to be vaccinated. The more people who are vaccinated in your community, the less likely the disease will spread.

Who should get immunised against chickenpox?

Anyone who wants to protect themselves against chickenpox can talk to their doctor about getting immunised.

Chickenpox immunisation is recommended for:

  • children at age 18 months, for free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • children under 14 years old who have had one dose of chickenpox vaccine but want to get a second dose to further reduce their risk of disease
  • children, teenagers and adults who have not had either the chickenpox disease or the chickenpox vaccine
  • women who are planning to get pregnant and have not had either the disease or the vaccine
  • children and adults who have not had either the disease or the vaccine and have been in contact with a person who has chickenpox in the past 5 days
  • those who have contact with people who have weakened immune systems
  • healthcare workers who have not had either chickenpox disease or 2 doses of the vaccine
  • people working in early childhood education and care who have not had either the disease or 2 doses of the vaccine
  • people working in long-term care who have not had either the disease or 2 doses of the vaccine.

People under 20 years old, refugees and other humanitarian entrants of any age, can get chickenpox vaccines for free under the NIP. This is if they did not receive the vaccines in childhood. This is called a catch-up vaccination. If they have already had chickenpox disease, they do not need a chickenpox vaccine.

Where can you get a chickenpox immunisation?

Chickenpox immunisations are available in each Australian state and territory.

See Where can I get immunised? for information.

How do you get immunised against chickenpox?

You can get chickenpox vaccines on their own, or as a combination vaccine with measles, mumps and rubella. They are all given as a needle.

Chickenpox vaccines include:

Your doctor will tell you which vaccine they will use for your chickenpox immunisation.

Do I need to pay for chickenpox immunisation?

Vaccines covered by the NIP are free for people who are eligible. See the NIP Schedule to find out which vaccines you or your family are eligible to receive.

Eligible people get the vaccine for free, but your health care provider (for example, your doctor) may charge a consultation fee for the visit. You can check this when you make your appointment.

If you are not eligible for free vaccine, you may need to pay for it. The cost depends on the type of vaccine, the formula and where you buy it from. Your immunisation provider can give you more information.

What are the possible side effects of chickenpox immunisation?

All medicines and vaccines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they’re not.

For most people, the chance of having a serious side effect from a vaccine is much lower than the chance of serious harm if you caught the disease.

Talk to your doctor about possible side effects of chickenpox vaccines, or if you or your child have possible side effects that concern you.

Common side effects of chickenpox vaccines include:

  • pain, redness or swelling where the needle went in
  • rash
  • fever.

The Consumer Medicine Information links in How do you get immunised against chickenpox? list the side effects of each vaccine.

More information

Contacts

If you need advice or more information about immunisation, go to our Immunisation contacts page.

Last updated: 
1 August 2018