Can You Get Chicken Pox Twice?

Some people do. Here's why

It is possible to get chickenpox (varicella) twice, though it is not common. After getting chickenpox, children typically build lifelong immunity and don't get it again. Sometimes, though, a child's immunity may be incomplete, making them vulnerable to a second chickenpox infection.

reasons for getting chicken pox twice

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Why You Get Chickenpox Twice

There are some situations in which a child might get chickenpox more than once, including:

  • Getting their first case of chickenpox when they were very young, especially if they were younger than 6 months old
  • Having a very mild or subclinical infection the first time
  • Developing a problem with their immune system

Vaccination After Chickenpox Infection

Most children who get chickenpox are considered naturally immune and don't need a chickenpox vaccine. You might want to have your child vaccinated, however, if they were very young or had a very mild case of chickenpox. That should keep most of these kids from getting chickenpox again.

And with so many kids having been vaccinated, there are also fewer folks around to expose an immunocompromised child or adult to chickenpox. Those factors make it even less likely for a child to get a repeat infection.

chickenpox diagnosis
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Incidence of Second Cases

According to the CDC, "Immunity following varicella infection is considered to be long-lasting and second cases of varicella are considered rare. However, second cases may occur more commonly among immunocompetent persons than previously considered."

Fortunately, with the rise in the use of the chickenpox vaccine, the incidence of first and second cases of chickenpox is much less common these days.


One common reason for a child to have a second attack of chickenpox is simply because the first case, or maybe the second case, was really something else that was misdiagnosed as chickenpox.

Although a full-blown case of chickenpox is hard to miss, other viral infections and even insect bites can be misdiagnosed as mild cases of chickenpox, especially by non-medical personnel, including parents and day care workers.

Testing for chickenpox is rarely required, but some tests can confirm if a child has chickenpox. These can be helpful in mild cases or when a child has a suspected second case of chickenpox.

Tests for chickenpox can include:

  • PCR or DFA of cellular matter from an unroofed vesicle
  • Viral culture of fluid from chickenpox lesion
  • IgG and IgM antibody levels


Later in life, some people who have had chickenpox will develop shingles, a related condition. A shingles vaccine is available to people age 50 and older.

Chicken Pox Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chickenpox vaccination: what everyone should know.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chapter 17: Varicella.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chickenpox (Varicella) Laboratory Testing.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Shingles Spreads.

By Vincent Iannelli, MD
 Vincent Iannelli, MD, is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Iannelli has cared for children for more than 20 years.