Drugs

Varicella Virus Vaccine Live

Varicella Virus Vaccine Live

Brand Name: Varivax Other Names: Varicella vaccine Drug Class: Opportunistic Infections and Coinfections
What is Varivax?

What is Varivax?

Varivax is a vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent chicken pox (also known as primary varicella infection) in people 12 months of age and older. Chicken pox is an opportunistic infection (OI) of HIV. An OI is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about OIs, read the AIDSinfo What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.

The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents include recommendations on the use of Varivax in people with HIV who meet certain requirements as determined by a health care provider.

What should I tell my health care provider before receiving Varivax?

What should I tell my health care provider before receiving Varivax?

Before receiving Varivax, tell your health care provider:

  • If you or your child are allergic to gelatin, neomycin, any other ingredients in Varivax, or any medicines. Tell your health care provider if you or your child have ever had any reactions to a previous dose of the live varicella virus vaccine or to any other vaccines.
  • About any medical conditions you or your child have or have had, for example, diabetes or liver problems.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Pregnant women should not get Varivax because the effects of the vaccine on an unborn baby are unknown. Pregnancy should be avoided for 3 months after vaccination. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with receiving Varivax when pregnant. 
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you have HIV.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you or your child are taking or plan to take. Varivax may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how Varivax works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between Varivax and the medicines you or your child take.

Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from Varivax. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.

How is Varivax given?

How is Varivax given?

A health care provider gives the Varivax vaccine as recommended to people who are 12 months of age or older. The vaccine is given as a shot. Vaccination with Varivax in children 12 months to 12 years of age is given either as one vaccine shot or as two vaccine shots given at least 3 months apart. Vaccination with Varivax in adolescents and adults is usually given as a series of two vaccine shots over a 4- to 8-week period. Read any printed information that your health care provider gives you about the varicella virus vaccine.

Where can I find more information about varicella virus vaccines?

Where can I find more information about varicella virus vaccines?

More information about varicella virus vaccines is available:

The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Injection (powder, lyophilized, for suspension).

Last Reviewed: March 7, 2019