Zostavax

Generic Name: Zoster Vaccine Live (ZOSS-ter)Brand Name: Zostavax

Zostavax is used for:

Preventing herpes zoster (shingles) in certain patients.

Zostavax is an attenuated live vaccine for varicella-zoster virus (VZV). VZV is the virus that causes shingles. Zostavax works by helping your immune system to protect you from VZV.

Do NOT use Zostavax if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Zostavax
  • you have had a severe allergic reaction (eg, severe rash, hives, difficulty breathing, dizziness) to gelatin or neomycin
  • you have a history of a weakened immune system (eg, advanced HIV, AIDS, leukemia, lymphoma, cancer of the bone marrow or lymphatic system)
  • you have active untreated tuberculosis (TB)
  • you are or may be pregnant
  • you take medicine that may weaken your immune system, including immunosuppressants (eg, cyclosporine) or high-dose corticosteroids (eg, prednisone)

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Zostavax :

Some medical conditions may interact with Zostavax . Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have ever had an allergic reaction (eg, severe rash, hives, difficulty breathing, dizziness) to another vaccine
  • if you have a history of rash caused by neomycin
  • if you have ever had shingles
  • if you have an infection, fever, or other current illness
  • if you may be in close contact (eg, in the house or workplace) with anyone who has a weakened immune system or anyone who may be pregnant and has not had chickenpox or been vaccinated against chickenpox

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Zostavax . Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Corticosteroids (eg, prednisone) or immunosuppressants (eg, cyclosporine) because they may decrease Zostavax 's effectiveness or increase the risk of infection from Zostavax

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Zostavax may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Zostavax :

Use Zostavax as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • An extra patient leaflet is available with Zostavax . Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about this information.
  • Zostavax is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic.
  • Do not use Zostavax if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
  • If you miss a dose of Zostavax , contact your doctor right away.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Zostavax .

Important safety information:

  • If you have a TB skin test within 8 months of receiving this vaccine, tell the doctor that you have received this vaccine.
  • Zostavax is used to prevent shingles. It cannot be used to treat shingles once you have it.
  • Zostavax may not prevent everyone who receives it from getting shingles. If you do get shingles after you receive Zostavax , it may help prevent nerve pain that can follow shingles in some people. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Rarely, people who receive Zostavax may spread the vaccine virus to other people. Tell your doctor if you have close contact with anyone who has a weakened immune system or who may be pregnant. You will need to discuss the risk of spreading the vaccine virus to these people.
  • Zostavax should not be used in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Do not use Zostavax if you are pregnant. Do not become pregnant for at least 3 months after you receive Zostavax . If you suspect that you could be pregnant or if you become pregnant within 3 months after receiving Zostavax , contact your doctor immediately. It is not known if Zostavax is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you are using Zostavax , check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of Zostavax :

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Headache; pain, swelling, redness, itching, warmth, and bruising at the injection site.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue).

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org), or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of Zostavax :

Zostavax is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using Zostavax at home, store Zostavax as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Zostavax , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Zostavax is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Zostavax . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

  • Zostavax Prescribing Information (FDA)
  • Zostavax Consumer Overview
  • Zostavax Detailed Consumer Information (PDR)
  • Zostavax Advanced Consumer (Micromedex) - Includes Dosage Information
  • Zoster Vaccine Live Professional Patient Advice (Wolters Kluwer)