Infectious Disease Specialist Questions Chickenpox

Can my child give me chickenpox?

I am up to date with shingles vaccines, but my daughter recently caught chickenpox. I've taken her to the doctor and we were given acyclovir for treatment. Since I've never had chickenpox, could I catch it from her? What's the risk?

5 Answers

If you never had it
It is possible to catch varicella (chickenpox) from your child, since you never had natural infection with chicken pox in your childhood. If you have received the chickenpox vaccine, the risk of contracting chickenpox is reduced significantly for many years, but the effectiveness of the vaccine diminishes over time. Oral acyclovir is effective for prevention of acquiring chickenpox from exposure to your child. You mention that you received (shingles) zoster vaccine. You can not get shingles if you have never been infected with chickenpox. There are blood tests to determine if you have been infected with chickenpox in the past, but nearly all natural infections produce characteristic rash and fever. If you have not received the chickenpox vaccine, you should get this vaccine in the near future if you are certain you never had chickenpox. If you're not certain, have a VZ antibody test performed prior to taking the vaccine.
You do not mention your health status, so I would qualify my answer as applicable only if your health is good - meaning no immunodeficiency from disease or medication
Also, I assume that you were over the age of 60 when you were given zostervax and it is assumed that most over 60 did have varicella even though never had the pox.
You are probably protected, and if you did a acquire an infection from your daughter it would be a mild case.

The official recommendation for someone without antibodies (never infected) who accidentally gets zostervax instead of the simple varicella vaccine should get the second dose of varicella vaccine with zostervax counted as the first of the two dose regimen.

I think you do not need to worry

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following chickenpox (varicella) vaccination schedules for all healthy teenagers and adults who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine should receive 2 doses of the varicella vaccine, given 4 - 8 weeks apart.

Good luck!
The vaccine will afford you some protection, but will not guarantee you will not acquire the infection. However, if you do come down with chicken pox, you will likely have a milder case. The disease is contagious from 4 days prior to the rash until the last pic crust.