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Varicella is a vaccine-preventable disease

Which Diseases Do Vaccines Protect Against?1

The Canadian publicly funded health care system offers protection against 13 vaccine-preventable diseases, TB protection in certain areas and HPV vaccine for older children.

Varicella (chicken pox)2

Chicken pox is caused by the varicella virus.

Chicken pox begins with a fever and then progresses to the development of a characteristic rash of red, itchy spots all over the body. The spots eventually turn into fluid-filled blisters, which dry out and become crusted after four or five days.

This is a very contagious disease and may be spread through direct contact with the blisters or through the air via coughing or sneezing. A pregnant woman can pass on the chicken pox virus to her baby before it is born.

While most cases of chicken pox do not pose a serious health risk, severe cases can be dangerous, especially for newborn infants or people with a compromised immune system. Rare complications of serious cases include skin infection and scarring, pneumonia, and encephalitis (swelling of the brain).

Technically, you can only get chicken pox once, but the varicella virus can remain in your body and re-activate as a painful rash of blisters called shingles.

  1. Public Health Agency of Canada. Vaccine-preventable diseases. Accessed
    March 17, 2016.
  2. Public Health Agency of Canada. Varicella (chickenpox). Accessed
    March 17, 2016.