Medications and Drugs
Brand Names: Zostavax
Generic Name: zoster vaccine live (Pronunciation: ZOS ter vak SEEN LYV)
What is zoster vaccine live (Zostavax)?
Herpes zoster is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox in children. When this virus becomes active again in an adult, it can cause herpes zoster, or shingles. Zoster vaccine is a live vaccine that helps prevent shingles.
This vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of the virus, which causes the body to develop immunity to the disease. This vaccine will not treat an active infection that has already developed in the body.
Zoster vaccine is used to prevent herpes zoster virus (shingles) in people age 50 and older.
Zoster vaccine will not treat shingles or nerve pain caused by shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia).
Zoster vaccine may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What are the possible side effects of zoster vaccine live (Zostavax)?
You should not receive a second zoster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. If you ever need to receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shots caused any side effects.
Becoming infected with shingles is much more dangerous to your health than receiving the vaccine to protect against it. Like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects, but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
Less serious side effects include:
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.
What is the most important information I should know about zoster vaccine live (Zostavax)?
You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. If you have tuberculosis, or any other severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.
You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. If you ever need to receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.
Becoming infected with herpes zoster (shingles) is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.
Do not receive this vaccine if you have leukemia or lymphoma (or other cancer affecting bone marrow), a history of allergic reaction to neomycin (Mycifradin, Neo-Fradin, Neo-Tab). You should not receive this vaccine if you are pregnant, or if you have active untreated tuberculosis, any type of cancer that affects bone marrow, or a weak immune system caused by disease (such as HIV or AIDS) or by receiving medications such as steroids or chemotherapy.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
- Shingles and Other Common Skin Problems
- Skin Allergies and Drugs
- 7 Ways to Curb Your Psoriasis Flare-Ups