Should your baby be immunised against chicken pox?
While it is not compulsory in Singapore to vaccinate against varicella (chicken pox), it is best that babies have the shot between 12 and 18 months old, says Dr Natalie Epton, a specialist paediatrician and neonatologist.
The vaccine has been around for about 20 years and the course consists of two doses given at least four weeks apart (the ideal is four months or more).
Although there is still a small risk of contracting chicken pox after the jab, a vaccinated person would experience only five to 10 spots compared to the more usual 200 to 400 spots. This means less scarring and lower risk of secondary skin infections.
There are other more significant health benefits. Studies suggest that chicken pox is a much less benign disease than people may think – about 1 per cent of children can end up with severe fever and even more life-threatening complications, such as lung and brain inflammation.
It is, however, the risk of transmitting the infection to a non-immune expectant mum that makes doctors strongly advise people to vaccinate their children.
If the mum contracts chicken pox particularly during Week 12 to 20 of her pregnancy, there can be severe and even life-threatening damage to the developing baby.
Effects can range from damage to the brain and eye, liver damage, as well as severe scarring leading to the loss of limbs.