The vaccination recommendations issued by the German Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) apply to all children over eleven months of age, but also include the following groups, provided they have not had chickenpox already: teenagers, women hoping to get pregnant, and people who have certain other conditions such as severe eczema. In Germany, chickenpox vaccinations are covered by statutory health insurers. The vaccination consists of two injections given at least four to six weeks apart.
If you have never had chickenpox and are not vaccinated, you can still get vaccinated within five days of coming into contact with someone who is infected. Doing that can stop you from developing chickenpox, or at least help make the symptoms milder.
Vaccinations should no longer be given during pregnancy. If a pregnant woman is at risk of infection, she can have treatment with antibodies to fight the viruses. This is called passive immunization, and it is also an option for newborns if their mother develops chickenpox a few days before or after the birth.
People who have been immunized can still get chickenpox. That rarely happens, though, and then the symptoms are usually milder. There is also a lower risk of complications.
Chickenpox is classified as a notifiable disease in Germany. This means that all doctors must inform their local health authority even if someone is only thought to have chickenpox. If a child is infected, the health authority might then contact the parents to tell them to keep the child at home until he or she is no longer contagious.
Anyone who has chickenpox should avoid direct contact with other people as much as possible – unless it's known that they've already had it. You should be especially careful around pregnant women and people who are at greater risk of having more severe chickenpox.