A personal story
For more information about chicken pox, the vaccine, pox parties (and why they are a really bad idea!) and shingles, please take a look at our article published in kidspot. It’s got relevant references embedded in it for further reading.
To making an informed choice about vaccinating, it helps to understand the relative risk of vaccinated, compared to not vaccinating. This table hopes to simplify some of the numbers involved, and introduce the fact (if you are not already aware), that as well as ‘wild type’ disease (that in nature, causing disease in the unvaccinated), there is also ‘breakthrough disease’ (when someone vaccinated gets wild type disease anyway, ie vaccine failure. This is usually less severe, and less contagious, than disease in the unvaccinated), and also ‘vaccine derived disease’, which is the term used to describe the handful of spots that can be directly caused by the weakened virus that is in the vaccine. Because that virus has been weakened, it does not cause the same kind of disease as the wild type virus, and is much much much less likely to be spread.
The shingles vaccine is available for anyone over the age of 50 who wants to reduce their risk of getting shingles. It is currently recommended for adults aged ≥60 years, or adults aged ≥50 years who are household contacts of a person who is immunocompromised. It is available free of charge on the National Immunisaton Program to adults aged 70-79.
Shingles is a painful and common disease of the elderly; this article explores the disease, and the vaccine that is available to protect yourself from it.
- Chickenpox fact page (Australian department of health)
- The chickenpox immunisation service (Australian department of health)
- The Australian Immunisation Handbook; chicken pox
- NCIRS: chicken pox vaccine information for health care providers
- Shingles fact page (Australian department of health)
- Shingles immunisation service (Australian department of health)
- The Australian Immunisation Handbook; shingles
- NCIRS: shingles vaccine fact sheets
Page reviewed June 2021.