Chickenpox and International Students

It is the medical recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the Centers for Disease Control and the American College Health Association that all entering college students without history of the disease, previous immunization or a negative antibody titer receive the chickenpox vaccine in the two dose series described below.

Why You Should Get The Vaccine?

Chickenpox (Varicella) is a very contagious common childhood disease. It is usually mild in small children, but can be serious especially in adults. Developing chickenpox would mean being quarantined and missing seven to 10 days of class (longer if complications develop).

  • The chickenpox virus can be spread from person to person through the air or by contact.
  • It causes a rash, itching, fever and tiredness.
  • It can lead to severe skin infections, scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death.
  • A person who has had chickenpox can develop a painful rash called shingles years after initial exposure.
  • About 12,000 people are hospitalized for chickenpox each year in the United States.
  • About 100 people die each year in the United States as a result of chickenpox.
  • People who do not get the vaccine until 13 years of age or older should get two doses, four to eight weeks apart. People who are not 18 years old can get the shot for $3 at the Benton County Health Department. People over 18 years old can get the vaccine from the doctor's office of their choice.

Who Should Not Get The Vaccine?

  • If you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin or a previous dose of chickenpox vaccine.
  • If you are moderately or severely ill, you should wait until you recover.
  • Pregnant women should wait until after birth.
  • Women should not get pregnant for one month after getting the vaccine.
  • These people should check with their doctor regarding the vaccine:
    Those with HIV/AIDS or any immune disease;
    Those being treated with drugs that affect the immune system (steroids);
    Anyone with cancer;
    If you have recently had a transfusion.

What Are The Risks of The Vaccine?

  • A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of the chickenpox vaccine causing serious harm is extremely small.
  • Getting the vaccine is much safer than getting the disease.

How Can I Learn More?

Call the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):



This information is taken form the Website of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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