Zostavax Side Effects
Generic name: zoster vaccine live
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jun 30, 2022.
Note: This document contains side effect information about zoster vaccine live. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Zostavax.
For the Consumer
Applies to zoster vaccine live: subcutaneous suspension reconstituted
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 this drug?
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.
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 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
For Healthcare Professionals
Applies to zoster vaccine live: subcutaneous powder for injection
The most common adverse events were headache and injection site reactions.[Ref]
Common (1% to 10%): Warmth, hematoma, induration
Common (1% to 10%): Headache, asthenia[Ref]
The most common reported cause of death was cardiovascular disease (10 in the vaccine group, 8 in the placebo group). The overall incidence of death occurring at any time during the study was similar between groups: 793 deaths (4.1%) in the vaccine group and 795 deaths (4.1%) in the placebo group.[Ref]
Common (1% to 10%): Death, fever, asthenia[Ref]
Common (1% to 10%): Respiratory infection, flu syndrome, rhinitis, respiratory disorder
Common (1% to 10%): Diarrhea
Common (1% to 10%): Skin disorder
Rare (less than 0.1%): Non-injection site varicella-type rash, non-injection site zoster-like rash
Postmarketing reports: Rash[Ref]
Common (1% to 10%): Pain in extremity
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Polymyalgia rheumatica
Postmarketing reports: Arthralgia, myalgia[Ref]
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Anaphylactic reaction
Postmarketing reports: Hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylactic reactions[Ref]
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Varicella
Frequency not reported: Lymphadenopathy[Ref]
Postmarketing reports: Necrotizing retinitis (patients on immunosuppressive therapy)[Ref]
Frequently asked questions
More about Zostavax (zoster vaccine live)
- Drug interactions
- Dosage information
- During pregnancy
- Reviews (3)
- Drug class: viral vaccines
- FDA approval history
Related treatment guides
1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0
2. "Product Information. Zostavax (zoster vaccine live)." Merck & Company Inc (2006):
3. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.