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Varicella Virus Vaccine (Injection)

Varivax® prevents chicken pox (varicella virus). Zostavax® prevents shingles (herpes zoster virus).

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Varicella virus vaccine is an active immunizing agent that is given to protect against infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The vaccine works by causing the body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the virus. Varicella (commonly known as chickenpox) is an infection that is easily spread from one person to another. Chickenpox is usually a mild infection but… Read more
Brand names include
Varilrix, Varivax, Zostavax
Drug classes About this
Vaccine
Combinations including this drug

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Post‐exposure prophylaxis vaccine to prevent varicella (chickenpox)

This review assessed how useful the varicella (also known as chickenpox) vaccine is in preventing chickenpox when given to children or adults who have never been immunised or previously had chickenpox, but who receive the vaccine within a short time following exposure to a person infectious with chickenpox. Varicella is a highly contagious viral infection characterised by a widespread pustular rash, fever and generally feeling unwell. We identified three trials involving 110 healthy children who were siblings of household contacts.

Varicella and influenza vaccines may reduce morbidity in patients with blood cancers

Viral infections cause significant disease and even death in patients with blood cancers. In the current systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) we aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of viral vaccines in these patients. The pre‐defined primary outcome was incidence of the infection concerned. Secondary outcomes were mortality due to the viral infection, all‐cause mortality, incidence of complications, incidence of severe viral infection, hospitalization rate, in vitro immune response and frequency of adverse effects. Eight RCTs were included. They evaluated heat‐inactivated varicella zoster virus (VZV) vaccine (two trials), influenza vaccines (five trials) and inactivated poliovirus vaccine (one trial). There were no RCTs on other viral vaccines (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella). Only the two trials on VZV vaccine reported our pre‐defined primary outcome. All trials reported some of the pre‐defined secondary outcomes. We found that inactivated VZV vaccine might reduce the severity of herpes zoster when given before and after stem cell transplant in adults with lymphoma or leukemia. Inactivated influenza vaccine might reduce upper and lower respiratory infections and hospitalization in adults with multiple myeloma who are undergoing chemotherapy, or children with leukemia or lymphoma within two years post‐chemotherapy. However, the quality of evidence is not high. Local adverse effects occur frequently with the vaccines, although serious adverse effects appear uncommon. Further high‐quality RCTs are needed to clarify the benefits and optimal regimens of viral vaccines for patients with blood cancers.

Immunogenicity and safety of measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Wu YM, Li G, Zhao WL.  Immunogenicity and safety of measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2010; 10(7): 862-868

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Summaries for consumers

Post‐exposure prophylaxis vaccine to prevent varicella (chickenpox)

This review assessed how useful the varicella (also known as chickenpox) vaccine is in preventing chickenpox when given to children or adults who have never been immunised or previously had chickenpox, but who receive the vaccine within a short time following exposure to a person infectious with chickenpox. Varicella is a highly contagious viral infection characterised by a widespread pustular rash, fever and generally feeling unwell. We identified three trials involving 110 healthy children who were siblings of household contacts.

How can you avoid getting chickenpox?

Chickenpox is highly contagious. If you are not immunized and have never had chicken pox, contact with someone who has it will almost always leave you infected. Early vaccination and being careful around those who already have chickenpox are the most important precautions you can take.Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, one of the herpes viruses. The German Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute recommends being vaccinated to lower your chances of infection. If you or someone in your family gets chickenpox there are several things you can do to avoid getting it yourself.Most importantly, people who have chickenpox should avoid contact with anyone who has not had it and who also may be more likely to develop more severe symptoms. This especially includes people with a weakened immune system, newborn babies, and non-vaccinated adults. The virus can harm the unborn child during pregnancy, and can be life-threatening for newborns. But although chickenpox is very unpleasant, it only rarely has serious consequences for otherwise healthy children.

Varicella and influenza vaccines may reduce morbidity in patients with blood cancers

Viral infections cause significant disease and even death in patients with blood cancers. In the current systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) we aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of viral vaccines in these patients. The pre‐defined primary outcome was incidence of the infection concerned. Secondary outcomes were mortality due to the viral infection, all‐cause mortality, incidence of complications, incidence of severe viral infection, hospitalization rate, in vitro immune response and frequency of adverse effects. Eight RCTs were included. They evaluated heat‐inactivated varicella zoster virus (VZV) vaccine (two trials), influenza vaccines (five trials) and inactivated poliovirus vaccine (one trial). There were no RCTs on other viral vaccines (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella). Only the two trials on VZV vaccine reported our pre‐defined primary outcome. All trials reported some of the pre‐defined secondary outcomes. We found that inactivated VZV vaccine might reduce the severity of herpes zoster when given before and after stem cell transplant in adults with lymphoma or leukemia. Inactivated influenza vaccine might reduce upper and lower respiratory infections and hospitalization in adults with multiple myeloma who are undergoing chemotherapy, or children with leukemia or lymphoma within two years post‐chemotherapy. However, the quality of evidence is not high. Local adverse effects occur frequently with the vaccines, although serious adverse effects appear uncommon. Further high‐quality RCTs are needed to clarify the benefits and optimal regimens of viral vaccines for patients with blood cancers.

See all (7)

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