Can My 12-Year Old Catch Chickenpox While Baby-sitting?

Chickenpox is a viral infection that we primarily recognize as a disease with a very uncomfortable, itchy rash. It can sometimes lead to serious side effects, including pneumonia and bacterial infections. Fortunately, a vaccine was developed in the 1970s for the prevention of chickenpox and has been routinely used in the United States since 1995. It will prevent the disease in 85 to 90 percent of exposed children, and the protection lasts for 20 years.

Your daughter is certainly susceptible at her age. If she was immunized, she should be protected from this exposure. If not, she could still get a dose of vaccine within 72 hours of exposure, which should prevent any serious manifestations of the disease. But it won’t stop her from getting sick.

About the Author

Dr. Mark Diamond is a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.


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