Should I give my children the chicken pox vaccine?
Q: I have two kids - one 6 years old and the other 3 years old. None of them had chicken pox till now. I want to give them the vaccine for chicken pox. (1) Should I wait for some more time? (2) How safe is this vaccine and how long will it safeguard my children? (3) If they are given the vaccine now, do they have the chance of getting chicken pox at the age of 16 or 17 years which will be more severe and their studies might get effected? (4) Which vaccine is more effective?
A:Generally chickenpox during first 8-10 years of life tends to be a mild disease, so you could wait. Only thing is that they will have to miss school for couple of weeks, so you can decide till what age they can conveniently miss school if they were to develop chickenpox. If by the age 10 they have not developed chickenpox, I would say you should give the vaccine. We know the chickenpox disease virtually gives protection life long, except for occasional case of repeat disease. The vaccine has been in use for about 20 years across the world; it is known to give about 96-99% protection, even if breakthrough infections occur, they tend to be mild. We don't know yet if the immunity would last for 30, 40, or 50 years but maybe it would. Two companies market chickenpox vaccine in India, one is Glaxo Smithkline and the other is Aventis Pasteur; both are equally good.