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Aust Fam Physician. 2003 Aug;32(8):583-7.

Varicella and varicella vaccination. An update.

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Department of General Practice, Flinders University, Noarlunga Hospital, South Australia.



Although varicella is generally mild in children, it is often more severe in adults and overall is responsible for approximately 2000 hospital admissions each year in Australia. Live attenuated varicella vaccines have been available in Australia since 2000. They are safe and effective.


This article discusses the role of varicella vaccination and management of varicella in pregnancy.


The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends vaccination of all children at the age of 18 months and a catch up program for nonimmune adolescents and adults. The program is not yet funded by the commonwealth government. Varicella vaccine may be used for postexposure prophylaxis and is most effective if given within three days after exposure, but can be used up to five days from exposure. Varicella in pregnancy may cause congenital malformations; the highest risk (2%) being when maternal infection occurs between 13-20 weeks gestation. Offer varicella zoster immunoglobulin to nonimmune pregnant women, neonates and other high risk subjects with significant exposure to varicella or zoster.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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