Serious complications from chickenpox
Very rarely, chickenpox can lead to serious complications. Chest or lung infection (pneumonia) is the most common.
Other complcications are rare, but could include:
- problems with the kidneys or joints
- irritation or swelling in the brain (such as encephalitis)
About 1 person each year dies of chickenpox. This is usually an adult.
Tamariki often scratch the blisters. This can make some of them infected. Take your tamariki to your healthcare provider if you think their blisters are infected. They might need antibiotics.
The blisters can leave mild scarring in some skin types.
Shingles after chickenpox
After you have chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (inactive) in your body. It can become active later in life and cause pain and blisters. This is called shingles. It can cause complications and is prevented by immunisation.
The best defence against chickenpox is immunisation. Immunisation provides long term but probably not lifelong immunity to chickenpox.
The chickenpox vaccine is free for some tamariki and those at high risk of chickenpox.
For everyone else, chickenpox immunisation is available at a cost. Talk to your healthcare provider if you would like the chickenpox vaccine for you or your tamariki.
You should not get immunised against chickenpox if you:
- are pregnant
- have a severe allergy to the vaccine or its ingredients
- have an immune deficiency condition.