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5 Things to Know About Chicken Pox

There's a Vaccine for It

After 1995, chicken pox started becoming less widespread -- at least in the United States. That's the year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Varivax, a vaccine for chicken pox. Since then, the number of cases of varicella zoster virus have dropped by nearly 88 percent.

Varivax isn't completely foolproof. A type of the virus known as breakthrough chicken pox can still occur after one dose of the vaccine. Because of this, a booster shot of the Varivax is recommend. After that, only about one in 10 people will get breakthrough chicken pox. Fortunately, this is a milder version of the infection; it tends to produce a smaller rash and fewer complications.

People who have already had chicken pox have built up an immunity to the virus and don't need a vaccine. Pregnant women; babies under a year old; cancer, leukemia and HIV patients; and people on steroids are other groups who shouldn't get a shot. For these people there is a product called varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG) that, while not a vaccine, can protect someone exposed to the virus for up to 96 hours.

One more important fact coming up on the next page.