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Zostavax

Generic Name: Zoster Vaccine (Live/Attenuated) (ZOS ter vak SEEN live ah TEN yoo aye ted)
Brand Name: Zostavax

Medically reviewed on May 2, 2018

Uses of Zostavax:

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Zostavax?

For all patients taking Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)):

  • If you have an allergy to Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)) or any part of Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)).
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Active TB (tuberculosis) that is not being treated, certain blood or bone marrow problems like leukemia or lymphoma, a fever, a weak immune system, or a disease that may cause a weak immune system like HIV or AIDS.
  • If you are taking any drugs to suppress your immune system. This may be certain doses of steroids like prednisone. There are many drugs that can suppress your immune system. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant within the next 3 months. Do not take Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)) if you are pregnant or if you are planning to get pregnant within the next 3 months.

Children:

  • If the patient is a child. Do not give Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)) to a child.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)).

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)) with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Zostavax?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)). This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • This medicine may not protect all people who use it. Talk with the doctor.
  • Tell your doctor if you will be in close contact with newborns, pregnant women who have not had chickenpox or have not had the chickenpox vaccine, or people with a weak immune system. You could spread the vaccine virus to these people. Your doctor will tell you who to avoid close contact with.
  • If you have a weak immune system, talk with your doctor. Deadly viral disease has happened in people with a weak immune system after getting Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)).
  • This medicine may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
  • If you get pregnant within 3 months after getting Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)), call your doctor right away.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

How is this medicine (Zostavax) best taken?

Use Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)) as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • It is given as a shot into the fatty part of the skin.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Call your doctor to find out what to do.

See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.

What are some other side effects of Zostavax?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Pain where the shot was given.
  • Redness or swelling where the shot is given.
  • Irritation where the shot is given.
  • Itching.
  • Headache.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Zostavax?

  • If you need to store Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)) at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.

Consumer information use

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about Zostavax (zoster vaccine (live/attenuated)), please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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