NSW Health offers the vaccines recommended for adolescents by the National Health and Medical Research Council in a school vaccination program. Signed parental/guardian consent must be provided.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is usually a mild disease of short duration in healthy children with symptoms such as slight fever, runny nose, feeling generally unwell and a skin rash that turns to blisters. However, it is more severe in adults and can cause serious and even fatal illness in individuals who are immunosuppressed. One in 4,000 cases will experience a sudden loss of muscle movement (acute cerebellar ataxia) while one in 100,000 will develop brain inflammation (encephalitis). Infection during pregnancy can result in congenital abnormalities in the baby, including skin scarring and limb defects.
Early in the illness, chickenpox is spread by coughing.
Later in the illness, the virus is spread by direct contact with the fluid in the blisters. The infection is highly contagious to people who have never had chickenpox or who have not been immunised. People are infectious from one or two days before the rash appears (that is, during the runny nose phase) and up to five days after (when the blisters have formed crusts or scabs).
Vaccines work by triggering the immune system to fight certain infections. If a vaccinated person comes into contact with these infections, their immune system is able to respond more effectively, preventing the disease developing or greatly reducing its severity.
A single dose of chicken pox vaccine is 80-85% effective in preventing chickenpox and very effective against severe disease.
Students up to 14 years of age require a single dose of chickenpox vaccine, unless they have previously been vaccinated (usually at 18 months of age) or have had chickenpox disease. Students 14 years of age and older require two doses of chickenpox vaccine given at least 1-2 months apart via their doctor.
Chickenpox vaccine should not be given to people who:
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that may result in unconsciousness and death if not treated quickly.
It occurs very rarely after any vaccination. The school immunisation nurses are fully trained in the treatment of anaphylaxis.
Children and adults can be safely vaccinated with chickenpox vaccine if there is an unknown history of chickenpox, or if there is no available evidence of previous vaccination with varicella vaccine.
The vaccine contains sucrose, hydrolysed porcine gelatin, urea, monosodium glutamate, residual components of MRC-5 cells, traces of neomycin and bovine serum.
Additives are included in very small amounts to either assist the vaccine to work or to act as a preservative. The vaccine was exposed to bovine-derived materials during manufacture.
Vaccines used in Australia are safe and must pass strict safety testing before being approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In addition, the TGA monitors the safety of vaccines once they are in use.
Side effects are commonly mild and usually involve redness, pain and swelling at the injection site or fever. Serious side effects are extremely rare. More information about side effects is available in the Consumer Medical Information (CMI) for the vaccine available from NSW School Vaccination Program. Parents concerned about side effects after vaccination should contact their GP who should also make a report to the local public health unit.
No. Any female student who is, or thinks she may be, pregnant should not be vaccinated. On the day of the clinic the vaccination nurse will ask female students if they are or could be pregnant. If a student answers yes to this question, she will not be vaccinated. The student will be urged to immediately discuss the issue with her parent/ guardian and to seek medical help. She will also be provided with contact details for a health referral service that will provide advice, support and guidance.
Female students who have received chickenpox vaccine should not become pregnant for 28 days after vaccination.
Chickenpox vaccine can be safely administered to someone who has asthma regardless of which medications they are taking.
Consent can be withdrawn at any time by providing the school with written notification of the withdrawal of consent or telephoning the school to withdraw consent.
You should contact your local doctor and make arrangements for your child to be vaccinated.
Information about your child’s vaccinations will be uploaded to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) so it can be linked to your child’s existing immunisation history.
Parents can request a copy of their child’s AIR Immunisation History Statement at any time up to their child being 14 years of age, and students aged 14 years and over can request their own immunisation history statement:
The information you provide on the Consent Form is subject to strict confidentiality and privacy protections contained in NSW and Commonwealth legislation (see the enclosed Privacy Statement). The information will be entered into a NSW Health immunisation register and then uploaded to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) so it can be linked to your child’s existing immunisation history and viewed on MyGov..
More information is available: