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Speciality Vaccines

Chickenpox is a common childhood infection. Usually, it's mild and complications are rare.

Almost all children develop immunity to chickenpox after infection, so most only catch it once. It can be more severe in adults.

But some people have a higher chance of developing serious complications from chickenpox.

These include:

  • people who have weakened immune systems through illnesses such as HIV or treatments like chemotherapy
  • pregnant women

The chickenpox vaccine protects against the varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox. The vaccine is not part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule. It's currently only offered on the NHS to people who are in close contact with someone who's particularly vulnerable to chickenpox or its complications.

The chickenpox vaccine is a live vaccine and contains a small amount of weakened chickenpox-causing virus. The vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies that will help protect against chickenpox.

The vaccine is given as 2 separate injections, usually into the upper arm, 4 to 8 weeks apart.

The pneumococcal vaccine helps protect against some types of bacterial infections that can cause serious illnesses like:

  • meningitis (an infection in the brain and spinal cord)
  • sepsis (a life-threatening reaction to an infection)
  • pneumonia (an infection in the lungs)

It can also help protect against other illnesses such as sinusitis and ear infections.

Vaccination gives the best protection against pneumococcal infections.

It helps protect against the most common and serious types of these infections, but there's still a chance you might get a pneumococcal infection.

You usually have some protection by about 3 weeks from when you had the vaccine.

Most people only need 1 dose of the vaccine for long-term protection. The protection only starts to reduce after 5 years.


This vaccine gives protection against shingles, a painful skin rash caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox (varicella-zoster) virus in people who have previously had chickenpox.

Shingles can sometimes lead to serious problems such as long-lasting pain, hearing loss or blindness.

You're more likely to get shingles, and it's more likely to cause serious problems, as you get older or if you have a severely weakened immune system.

The shingles vaccine helps:

  • reduce your chances of getting shingles
  • reduce your chances of getting serious problems if you do get shingles

You can get shingles more than once, so it's important to get vaccinated even if you've had shingles before.

The vaccine, Shingrix, contains a protein from the varicella-zoster virus, but not the virus itself, so it cannot cause shingles or chickenpox but can still create an immune response. The very strong and long-lasting immune responses and high levels of protection that are reported for Shingrix are thought to be induced by the “adjuvant” which is included in the vaccine and enhances the immune response to the protein in the vaccine.

Two doses of the Shingrix vaccine are given for full protection.

Speciality VaccinesValidityPrice Per DoseOther Info
Chicken PoxLong Term£652 doses needed
Pneumococcal VaccineLong Term£60
ShinglesLong Term£2402 doses needed