Te rongoā āraimate koroputa hei Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine

Your tamariki can get a free chickenpox vaccination when they are 15 months old. It is also free for 11 year olds who have not been immunised already or if they have not had a confirmed chickenpox infection. People planning a pregnancy should check their immunity to chickenpox.

What the chickenpox vaccine protects you from

Chickenpox (varicella) is a common highly infectious childhood illness. It causes an itchy, blistering rash. Symptoms also include fever, aches and pains, and feeling tired.

Infections are normally mild, but chickenpox can make some people very sick. It is usually more severe in rangatahi (young people), adults and people with a weakened immune system.

Find out more about the symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention of chickenpox.

Chickenpox (varicella)

Pregnancy and chickenpox

Chickenpox during pregnancy can harm unborn babies and cause stillbirth.

If you are planning a pregnancy and are not able to find out if you have had chickenpox, or if you have not been vaccinated, it is strongly recommended you get a chickenpox vaccine before becoming pregnant.

Pregnancy and immunisations

When to get the chickenpox vaccine

At 15 months old

Tamariki are offered 1 free chickenpox vaccine when they are 15 months old.

Chickenpox vaccine catch-ups are free until your tamariki turns 12 years old. If your tamariki has had chickenpox they do not need the vaccine.

The vaccine will protect around 4 out of 5 tamariki from getting chickenpox. Up to 1 in 5 may still get infected, but symptoms are generally less severe.

Additional paid dose

Tamariki can also can get an additional dose, 3 months before or after the 15 month dose, to improve the vaccine's effectiveness  but this extra dose is not free.

Everyone 12 years old and over

For everyone else, chickenpox immunisation is available in Aotearoa New Zealand at a cost. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider if you would like the chickenpox vaccination for yourself or your child.

Booking a vaccination appointment

Catch up on a missed vaccination

If you have missed a vaccination, it is okay. Tamariki can catch up for free on most vaccinations, and adults can catch up on lots too.

Catching up on missed vaccinations

Pregnant people and some immunocompromised people cannot have the chickenpox vaccine.

Which vaccine is used

The free vaccine we use for children in Aotearoa New Zealand is Varivax®.

It is given as an injection, normally into a muscle in their arm or leg.

Information about Varivax — Medsafe (external link)

Side effects and reactions

Like most medicines, vaccines can sometimes cause reactions. These are usually mild, and not everyone will get them.

Mild reactions are normal and show that your child’s immune system is responding to the vaccine.

If your tamariki is going to have any reactions, they normally happen in the first few days after getting vaccinated. The vaccine itself is gone from your child's body within a few hours or days.

The most common reaction to an immunisation includes:

  • a slight fever
  • pain or swelling where the needle went in.

Other common reactions

Other common reactions of the chickenpox vaccine include:

  • headache
  • feeling unwell, tired or weak
  • a mild rash (between 5 and 26 days after immunisation).

Vaccine side effects, reactions, and safety

Allergic reactions

Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare. Only about 1 in 1 million people will experience this.

Your vaccinator is well-trained and knows what to look for and can treat an allergic reaction quickly if it happens.

Serious allergic reactions normally happen within the first few minutes of vaccination. This is why your tamariki need to wait for up to 20 minutes after immunisation.


Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus and is most commonly seen in children.


Find the location that give childhood immunisations

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