What is it?

It is important that your child is vaccinated. The vaccinations protect not only your child, but also your family and the people around you. In addition to the classic vaccination schedule run by Child and Family, a number of other vaccinations are strongly recommended, including this one against varicella zoster virus.

The varicella zoster virus is responsible for chickenpox and causes disease with the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • blisters (sometimes itchy or painful)
  • rash and scabs on the skin
  • ulcers on the mucosa

After your child has had the infection, they will have lifelong immunity. That means that they are no longer susceptible to the disease and will not have chickenpox again. However, the virus will remain dormant in the body. If the virus reactivates, then it may cause herpes zoster (shingles).

Possible complications:

  • bacterial infection
  • pneumonia
  • acute cerebellar ataxia (neurological co-ordination disorder)
  • encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
  • death (one or two deaths a year in Belgium)

Most complications and hospitalisations occur in children who were healthy previously. Some of the hospitalised patients are discharged with residual damage or significant scarring.

In adults, the risk of more severe illness is greater.

Infection during pregnancy can result in disorders of the skin, brain and eye, underdeveloped limbs, etcetera in the baby.

Infection in people who have a weakened immunity and in newborns can spread to the entire body, with the risk of developing clotting disorder and inflammation of internal organs.

Advice of the Belgian Health Council

  • Vaccination is useful but is currently not generally recommended because of the following reasons:
    • Out of fear that the rate of vaccinations for measles, mumps and rubella will decrease.
    • Due to the need for an extensive vaccination programme, for older children too, to prevent the shift of chickenpox to older age groups.
  • Varicella vaccination can be administered on request.
  • Vaccination is recommended for:
    • non-immune persons who are in close contact with weakened patients
    • non-immune persons working in the medical sector or are in close contact with young children
    • non-immune women of fertile age

Possible side effects

CommonSometimes
  • Redness and/or pain of the injection site
  • Fever fits seven to ten days after the injection, in children under two years
  • Chickenpox or measle-like rash

Price (price from 1 September 2019)

  • 48.56 euro per administered vaccine.
  • Two doses are required.
  • Ask your health insurance about the portion of the price that they reimburse.

Centres and specialist areas

Paediatrics

Latest publication date: 05/02/2021
Supervising author: Dr Degraeuwe Jelle