Newsroom > DHHS News Release

March 2, 2011

Leah Bucco-White, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9356

Nebraska Students K-12 Will Need Second Chickenpox Shot for 2011-2012 School Year

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Lincoln – It’s not too early to think about the immunizations your student needs for next year. There’s a new immunization requirement for varicella (chickenpox) vaccine looming on the horizon. Starting July 1, 2011, a second dose of varicella vaccine or documentation of the disease will be required for all students, K-12, under newly updated rules and regulations.

"Chickenpox can be a severe disease,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer and the Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “Studies show that one dose of varicella vaccine is about 85 percent effective in preventing the disease according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. A second dose provides improved protection for children who didn’t build strong immunity the first time around."

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It usually causes a fever and itchy rash. Complications from chickenpox can include bacterial infections, pneumonia, dehydration and central nervous system problems (usually more severe in children 13 or older and adults).

The first dose of varicella vaccine was added to Nebraska’s list of required immunizations in 2004. The vaccine was first licensed in 1995. Children usually receive their first dose of varicella vaccine on or after their first birthday. The second dose can be given anytime on or after the fourth birthday.

Dr. Schaefer encourages parents to think about getting their students that second dose of varicella vaccine sooner than later to help avoid the back to school rush.

Children who have already had chickenpox do not need varicella vaccine. Parents, guardians or healthcare providers can provide a written letter confirming the child had the disease and the year it occurred.

For vaccination information, contact your local health care provider. DHHS’ Immunization Program is another good informational resource. Call 402-471-6423.

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