Superdrug has become the first retailer on the British
high street to offer a chickenpox vaccination.
Currently the jab is not part of the NHS routine
childhood immunisation schedule, so in most cases you have
to pay if you want your child to have it.
But once a child has contracted chickenpox naturally, they
have immunity for life, so many parents choose to wait it out.
What is chickenpox?
According to NHS Choices, chickenpox is a
common illness that mainly affects children
and causes an itchy, spotty rash. Most
children will catch chickenpox at some point. It can also
occur in adults who didn’t have it when they were a
What causes chickenpox?
Chickenpox is caused by a virus that spreads very
easily to people who haven’t had it before. If you have had
it before, you’ll usually be immune for life.
Can you be vaccinated after being exposed to chickenpox?
The NHS says if you have been exposed to the
chickenpox virus the vaccine may still successfully prevent
symptoms if you are vaccinated within three days of initial
How does the chickenpox vaccine work?
It is linked to a group of vaccines referred to as
‘live’ vaccines meaning that it contains a weakened version
of the virus that causes chickenpox.
So for healthy people this causes your
immune system to react to the vaccine, resulting in you
developing immunity against chickenpox, if you are exposed to
the virus at a later date.
Who can get the chickenpox jab for free on the NHS?
The injection is currently only available on the NHS
for those who are at high risk of spreading the virus to
particularly vulnerable people. This includes
people with weakened immune systems (as a result of HIV or
treatments like chemotherapy), or non-immune healthcare
Where can you buy the vaccine?
The chickenpox vaccine will be available in 58 of
Superdrug’s nurse and pharmacist Health Clinic stores across
the UK. You can find your nearest store using their location tool.
How much does the vaccination cost?
The vaccination is available at £65 per dose, and
requires two doses to be given between four and eight weeks
apart. This double dose will give your
child heightened immune protection (although 90% of children
will develop immunity with only a single dose).
Should parents pay for the vaccination?
Dr Clare Morrison, GP at online pharmacy MedExpress told HuffPost UK: “I’m all for
the chickenpox vaccine.
“It isn’t a fatal disease, but it can be highly inconvenient
and it’s never nice for children to have chickenpox – it’s
painful and itchy and often scars.
“Also, if children don’t have the vaccine when young, they
can catch chickenpox as adults.”
In a blog on HuffPost UK, Dr Nupur
Yogarajah, debated whether or not to vaccinate her children
against chickenpox or just wait for them to be infected
naturally. In the end she decided to get them
“After nearly five years of waiting with bated breath every
time a rash appeared on their soft baby skin we decided to go
ahead and vaccinate,” she wrote.
“The main reason I hesitated from getting the children jabbed
before, was in being unsure about the strength of immunity
with the vaccine.
“Chickenpox contracted naturally generally gives you lifelong
immunity. And in those who’ve had a vaccine, 95% of moderate
cases are prevented and 100% of severe cases.”
Childhood vaccination is always a
“Therein lies my primary reason for having them vaccinated;
the severe cases.
“Now, I fully hold my hands up to the fact that my exposure
to very unusual outcomes of illness are skewed being a
doctor. I also fully accept that chicken pox is mostly a
straight forward illness with limited complications.
“But, I must admit this has weighed in heavy on my decision
“Childhood vaccination is always a controversial issue and I
can fully understand the choice to not vaccinate for
chickenpox as well.
“I realise I am fortunate to deliberate on this issue as the
vaccine has to be paid for privately. On balance, for us
personally we decided to go for it.”