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Vaccine Injury Blog

Legal Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure a disease. Nor is it intended as medical advice. The reader is responsible for their decisions and their health.

  • Writer's pictureDavid Tierney

Can the Chickenpox Vaccine Cause Serious Injury

Chickenpox is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is spread by coughing and sneezing, and by direct contact with the lesions on an infected person. It is highly contagious. The most common and least dangerous symptom is a rash, familiar to many, perhaps accompanied by a fever and headache. You can see images of that rash here: These are the most common symptoms experienced by healthy children.

However, more severe complications can occur, including bacterial infections from the skin lesions, swelling of the brain, and pneumonia. These more severe complications are more likely in adults who had never been vaccinated. Prior to the 1995 availability of a chickenpox vaccine in the United States, an average of 90 people a year died. For adults who previously had the disease (often as a child), the disease can also recur in a form called shingles. Shingles (also sometimes called "herpes zoster") shows itself as a painful, blistering rash. The Chickenpox vaccines (there are two approved in the U.S.) are up to 95% effective at preventing negative outcomes from the disease.

Even though the vaccine is extremely effective at preventing the disease, complications have been associated with it. The most common complications include those which are also common to other vaccines: fainting ("vasovagal syncope" in medical terms), shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration (or SIRVA), and allergic reactions.

There are also other potential complications which are not common to other vaccines. As both Chickenpox vaccines contain live, though weakened, versions of varicella virus, there is a risk of experiencing mild symptoms of the disease itself. For example, the vaccine may cause a milder form of the disease with chickenpox-like rash in up to 3.8% of recipients. This is called disseminated varicella vaccine-strain viral disease. In some immunocompromised individuals, the disseminated varicella vaccine-strain viral disease can have much worse outcomes. Sometimes, a smallpox-like disease can occur months after vaccination. This is often the result of a reactivation of the vaccine-strain of the varicella virus.

When any of the above injuries occur, it is important that you receive medical care. Also, there is a federal program which may be able to compensate you for the above injuries, called the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (or VICP). If you think you have been injured by a vaccine, it is important to contact an attorney experienced with the VICP to see if you might be entitled to compensation.

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