Common Brand Name(s): Zostavax
Important: How To Use This Information
This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.
This medication is a vaccine used to prevent zoster (shingles) in adults 50 years and older. Zoster is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have been infected with chickenpox (usually in childhood), the virus can live in your body's nerve roots in an inactive form. For reasons that are not fully understood, the virus may become active again. This causes shingles with symptoms of rash, blisters, and pain.
This vaccine works by boosting the body's natural defense (immunity) against the zoster virus so that symptoms of shingles do not develop. It should not be used for treating active shingles, nerve pain caused by shingles, or for the prevention of chickenpox.
This vaccine should not be used in children.
How To Use
Read all vaccine information available from your health care professional before receiving the vaccine. If you have any questions, ask your health care professional.
This vaccine is given by injection under the skin by a health care professional. It is usually given in the upper arm.
Redness, itching, swelling, warmth, bruising, and pain at the injection site may occur. Headache or fever may also occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your health care professional promptly.
Rarely, some people have symptoms such as fainting, dizziness, vision changes, or ringing in the ears just after getting a vaccine injection. Tell your health care professional right away if you have any of these symptoms. Sitting or lying down may help, since these symptoms usually don't last long.
Remember that your health care professional has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your health care professional right away if you have any serious side effects, including:
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:
- itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- severe dizziness
- trouble breathing
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your health care professional.
Contact the health care professional for medical advice about side effects. The following numbers do not provide medical advice, but in the US you may report side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967. In Canada, you may call the Vaccine Safety Section at Public Health Agency of Canada at 1-866-844-0018.
Before you receive this vaccine, tell the health care professional if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as neomycin, gelatin), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your health care professional for more details.
Before receiving this vaccine, tell your health care professional your medical history, especially of:
- current fever/illness
- immune system disorders (such as due to HIV infection, certain cancers such as leukemia/lymphoma, cancer or radiation treatment)
- previous reaction to other vaccine
- untreated active tuberculosis
This vaccine is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Pregnancy should also be avoided for 3 months after receiving this vaccine. Consult your health care professional for more details.
It is unknown if this vaccine passes into breast milk. Consult your health care professional before breast-feeding.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your health care professional. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this vaccine include:
- drugs that weaken the immune system (including cyclosporine, tacrolimus, cancer chemotherapy, corticosteroids such as prednisone)
- certain antiviral drugs (such as acyclovir, famciclovir, valacyclovir)
This vaccine is given as a single dose.
Although this vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of getting shingles, it may not fully protect everyone who receives the vaccine.
Consult your health care professional about the need for other vaccines to prevent potentially severe illness (e.g., flu shots).
Different brands of this medication have different storage needs. Check the product package for instructions on how to store your brand, or ask your pharmacist. Some brands may need to be stored in the freezer, while other brands may be stored in the refrigerator. If you are instructed to store it in the refrigerator, check with your pharmacist to see if the vaccine must be used within a short time. Protect from light.
Store the mixing liquid at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Do not freeze the mixing liquid. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Information last revised March 2020.
Copyright(c) 2020 First Databank, Inc.
Conditions of use: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information in not intend to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects nor should it be construed in indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.