Get protected, get immunized.
VZIG is made from blood and contains antibodies to the varicella zoster virus. This virus causes chickenpox and shingles. VZIG provides fast protection, but the protection is not long lasting.
Chickenpox (also called varicella) is a virus that causes fever and an itchy rash that looks like small water-filled blisters. It spreads easily through the air by coughing, sneezing, or touching open blisters.
It is usually mild, but it can be more serious in newborns, adolescents, adults, and people with weak immune systems. Complications can include:
If you are pregnant and get chickenpox, there is a small risk of having a miscarriage or having a baby born with birth defects.
If you get chickenpox a few days before or after you have your baby, the baby has a high risk of getting very sick or dying.
The chickenpox virus stays in your body, even after your symptoms are gone. The virus can become active again and cause shingles (also called herpes zoster). It usually appears as a painful, blistering rash on one side of your body. The rash can last for several weeks.
You may get VZIG if you have contact with the varicella zoster virus, you’re not protected against the virus, and you’re at risk of getting very sick. Those at risk of getting very sick may include:
You need 1 dose of VZIG as soon as possible after contact with the virus.
VZIG helps prevent chickenpox. If you do get chickenpox, VZIG helps prevent you from getting very sick.
VZIG is one of the safest blood products available. Canadian Blood Services carefully screens donors and tests all blood. Blood of donors is not used if the donor has risk factors or tests positive for an infectious disease. VZIG is treated with heat and chemicals to kill germs. The risk of getting an infection from VZIG is very small.
Call Health Link at 811 if you've had contact with chickenpox or shingles and you:
If you need VZIG, you'll get it at your local public health office or hospital.
There can be side effects from VZIG, but they tend to be mild and go away in a few days. Side effects may include:
It’s important to stay at the hospital or public health office for 15 minutes after you have VZIG. Some people may have a rare but serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. If anaphylaxis happens, you will get medicine to treat the symptoms.
It’s rare to have a serious side effect. Call Health Link at 811 to report any serious or unusual side effects.
Talk to your healthcare provider before getting VZIG if you:
Check with your doctor or public health nurse before you get VZIG.
You can still have VZIG if you have a mild illness such as a cold or fever.
For long-term protection, you need to be immunized with a vaccine that protects against chickenpox (varicella) or shingles (herpes zoster).
Vaccines that protect against chickenpox:
Vaccines that protect against shingles:
VZIG can interfere with live vaccines, including vaccines to prevent chickenpox. Before getting a live vaccine, tell your healthcare provider if you had VZIG in the past 5 months. If you had a live vaccine less than 14 days before having VZIG, ask a public health nurse if you need the live vaccine again.
Many adults and children are afraid of needles. You can do many things before, during, and after immunization to be more comfortable. Visit
Commitment to Comfort for tips to make immunization a better experience.
Current as of: December 15, 2022
Author: Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.