What is Varilrix?

Varilrix is a vaccine used to protect against chickenpox, also known as varicella. In this blog post, we will explore what chickenpox is, how the Varilrix vaccine works, who should receive it and important safety information.

What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus. It presents as a rash of itchy, fluid-filled blisters that typically appear first on the chest, back and face before spreading elsewhere.

Common symptoms include:

  • Flu-like feelings such as fatigue, fever and headache
  • Blistery rash that turns crusty as it heals

While chickenpox is usually mild in children, it can be more serious in adults, pregnant women and those with weak immune systems. Complications include bacterial infections of the skin or bloodstream.

Chickenpox spreads through respiratory secretions or touching the fluid from blisters. It is easily transmitted between people who have not previously had the illness or vaccine.

How does the Varilrix Vaccine Work?

Varilrix is a live attenuated vaccine, meaning it contains a weakened form of the live varicella zoster virus that cannot cause chickenpox but can still activate an immune response.

When someone receives the vaccine, their immune system produces antibodies that recognize and remember the virus. This memory provides protection against future chickenpox infection.

In most countries, two doses of Varilrix are recommended for optimal immunity – there should be at least a 4 week interval between doses.

Who Should Receive Varilrix?

The Varilrix vaccine is recommended for:

  • Children between 9 months and 12 years of age
  • Teenagers and adults who have not had chickenpox
  • People at high risk of complications from the illness

It is important that immunosuppressed individuals, including those on chemotherapy or steroid treatment, receive the vaccine under medical guidance.

Safety Information

As with any vaccine, Varilrix may cause some minor side effects:

  • Soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site
  • Fever >38°C
  • Rash or blisters resembling chickenpox

These are usually mild and self-limiting. Rarely, more serious allergic reactions may occur.

Other precautions include:

Do not receive if you have a severe illness with fever or are pregnant. Delay vaccination for 1 month after delivery or termination of pregnancy.

Tell your doctor about any other vaccines or medical conditions you may have.

Seek medical advice right away if a rash develops following vaccination.

In summary, the Varilrix vaccine provides important protection against chickenpox for both children and adults. When given as recommended, it presents minimal health risks. Prompt medical care should be sought if concerning symptoms arise after receiving the vaccine.