- Childhood Immunisation Schedule
- Annual Flu Vaccine
- Pneumococcal Vaccine
- Shingles Vaccine
- Tetanus boosters
- Vaccines outside of National Schemes e.g. Chicken Pox, Meningitis B.
- Travel Vaccines and advise
- Occupational Vaccines eg Hepatitis B
- Vaccines titres to check for response to vaccines / immune status
Vaccines & Testing
The chickenpox vaccine provides protection against the varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox.
The chickenpox vaccine is not part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule.
The vaccine does not contain thiomersal (mercury).
Chickenpox is a common childhood infection. In most cases the symptoms are mild and complications are rare however children are usually quite miserable with chicken pox as they often have temperatures and a very itchy widespread rash that keeps them awake at night. Many children scratch the lesions and some end up developing mild skin scarring. They are also excluded from school or creche for a minimum of 1 week when they have chicken pox. Almost all children develop immunity to chickenpox after infection, so only catch it once. The disease can be more severe in adults.
Certain groups of people are at greater risk of serious complications from chickenpox. These include people who have weakened immune systems through illness, or through treatment, such as chemotherapy.
Chickenpox can be very serious for an unborn baby when a pregnant woman catches the infection. It can cause a range of serious birth defects as well as severe disease in the baby when it is born.
Complications are infrequent among healthy children but occur much more frequently in persons older than 15 years of age and infants younger than 1 year of age.
Most commonly reported complications include:
• Secondary bacterial infection of skin lesions
• Pneumonia (viral or secondary bacterial)
• Neurological complications include meningitis, encephalitis (1.8/100,000 cases)
Varicella infection in early pregnancy
Infection with varicella in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy can cause a variety of abnormalities in the foetus; low birth weight, underdevelopment of a limb(s), skin scarring, poor development of localised muscles, brain abnormality. The mortality rate ranges from 1-2%.
Maternal varicella infection around the time of delivery
Maternal varicella infection from 5 days before to 2 days after delivery may result in overwhelming infection in the infant and a fatality rate as high as 30%. This severe disease is believed to result from fetal exposure to varicella virus without the benefit of passive maternal antibody.
How the vaccine works
The chickenpox vaccine contains a small amount of the live weakened varicella zoster virus.
The vaccine causes the immune system to produce antibodies that will help protect against chickenpox.
How effective is the vaccine?
It has been shown that 9 out of 10 children vaccinated with a single dose will develop immunity against chickenpox. A two-dose schedule is now recommended for all, as it gives a better immune response.
Three-quarters of teenagers and adults who are vaccinated with two doses will develop immunity against chickenpox.
Who should not have it
The chickenpox vaccine should not be given to people who have experienced an anaphylactic reaction (serious allergic reaction) to a previous dose of the vaccine or to any of the ingredients used in the vaccine.
The chickenpox vaccine should not be given to pregnant women and pregnancy should be avoided for three months after the last dose.
Vaccination is not recommended for people who are seriously unwell. It should be delayed until they recover.
Women of childbearing age
Women of childbearing age who think they never had chickenpox should contact us for advice regarding vaccination. We can arrange blood testing to check for evidence of immunity. Vaccination is recommended for non-immune women who may become pregnant.
Side Effects of the Vaccine
The most common side effect of the chickenpox vaccine is soreness and redness around the site of the injection.
This side effect develops in around one in five children and one in four teenagers and adults.
A mild rash may occur in 1 in 10 children and 1 in 20 adults.
Serious side effects, such as anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction), are rare. They occur in less than 1 in 100,000 vaccination cases.
Though the varicella vaccine is not part of the routine childhood immunisation schedule it is in other countries, such as the US and Germany.
Millions of doses of the vaccine have been given and there is no evidence of any increased risk of developing a long-term health condition as a result of the vaccination.
Children can receive the vaccine from 12 months of age. It should not be given within one month of any other live vaccine which includes the MMR.
2 doses of the vaccine are recommended at least 4 weeks apart. As the Irish schedule includes vaccines up 13 months old as a practice we advise that babies are vaccinated after 14 months of age once they have completed the first part of their Childhood Immunisation Programme.
As this is not covered under the Childhood Immunisation scheme this vaccine must be obtained privately and be paid for.
Further information is available on the HSE website
We are delighted to be able to offer Zika Virus testing to patients both male and female if the travel history and/or symptoms raise concerns.
Zika Virus is transmitted primarily through mosquitos. In most cases, Zika virus infection causes a mild, self-limited illness. Symptoms last for up to one week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Time from exposure to symptoms is 3-12 days. Around 80% of Zika virus infection cases are likely to go unnoticed. Symptoms of rash, muscle and joint pain, and conjunctivitis typically predominate and usually occur within 2 weeks after travel to a Zika virus affected area. The incubation period is typically between 2 and 7 days.
There is now no doubt that Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes. Reports of sexual transmission, or suspected infection, in symptomatic patients without travel history and other new claims will continue to expand as more and more evidence becomes available about Zika Virus, and key questions relating to risk are addressed. It is estimated that whilst fewer than 1% of women who contract Zika virus during pregnancy go on to have a baby with microcephaly, in as many as 20% of cases, Zika causes other less immediately obvious forms of fetal brain damage.
- Symptomatic pregnant women, in any trimester, with a positive travel history should undergo testing
- Asymptomatic pregnant women, in any trimester, with a positive travel history at 2 to 12 weeks should undergo testing
- Advice to men who have travelled in Zika areas, or whohave or had Zika virus, is to use condoms if their partner is pregnant, or who might become pregnant, for 28 days if asymptomatic and 6 months if symptoms develop.
- All pregnant women should avoid non-essential travelto areas with active Zika transmission
Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, which is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
There have been reported cases of sexual transmission with the virus spreading to people who have not visited affected countries. It is not known exactly how long Zika virus is present in the semen of men who have been infected, nor is it known how long after exposure Zika virus can be sexually transmitted from a male partner. Men with partners who are pregnant, or who might become pregnant should consider using condoms for 28 days if asymptomatic and 6 months if symptoms develop.
WHO's advice now expressly states that men and women of reproductive age living in affected areas should consider delaying pregnancy. This advice does not say for how long..
Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus infection. It may be several years before a Zika vaccine is widely available.
Prevention of mosquito bites is of key importance when travelling to affected areas.
Please contact us to discuss the cost of this test and the type of samples we need to collect.
As testing is expensive we need to take a thorough travel history and/or examine you before we move forward to testing.