Zostavax

Generic Name: Zoster vaccine, live

  • What is Zostavax?

    Zostavax is a vaccine that is used for adults 60 years or older to prevent shingles (also known as zoster). It contains a weakened form of the chickenpox virus, which causes both chickenpox and shingles. Shingles is a rash that usually occurs in one side of the body, which can blister and become painful. It can last for up to 30 days. Zostavax works by helping your immune system protect you from getting shingles and the associated pain and other serious complications.

    If you do get shingles even though you have been vaccinated, this drug may help prevent the nerve pain that can follow shingles in some people.

  • What is the most important information I should know about Zostavax?

    Zostavax may not protect everyone who receives the vaccine and it cannot be used to treat shingles once you have it. If you do get shingles, see your doctor within the first few days of getting the rash.
  • Who should not take Zostavax?

    You should not receive Zostavax if you are allergic to any of its ingredients (including allergies to gelatin or neomycin); have a disease or condition that causes a weakened immune system, such as an immune deficiency (including leukemia, lymphoma, and HIV/AIDS); or you are taking high doses of steroids by injection or by mouth. Also, if you have active TB (tuberculosis) that is not being treated, or you are pregnant or may become pregnant, do not take Zostavax.
  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Zostavax?

    Mention all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with the Zostavax injection. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have had shingles before or are currently exposed to chicken pox. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should inform your doctor.
  • What is the usual dosage?

    Adults: Zostavax is given as a single dose by injection under the skin.
  • How should I take Zostavax?

    Zostavax is given as an injection, directly under the skin, by your doctor.
  • What should I avoid while taking Zostavax?

    Avoid receiving Zostavax if you already have shingles.
  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Zostavax?

    No significant interactions have been reported at this time. However, always tell your doctor about any medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
  • What are the possible side effects of Zostavax?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: bruising at the injection site, headache, itching, pain, redness, swelling, warmth

  • Can I receive Zostavax if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    The effects of Zostavax during pregnancy and breastfeeding are unknown. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Zostavax?

    Zostavax is administered as a single injection. Speak to your healthcare provider if you miss your scheduled vaccination with Zostavax.
  • How should I store Zostavax?

    This medication will be stored by your healthcare provider.