Chicken pox and shingles

A personal story

For a personal story from our members, and a reminder of just how serious chicken pox can be, please read Jesse’s story here, and Julian’s story here.


chicken pox facts

Summary article

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.


chicken pox and shingles

Relative risk

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.

chicken pox by the numbers


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.

Further reading

Page reviewed June 2021.
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