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Drugs reference index «Zostavax»

Zostavax

Generic Name: varicella virus vaccine (Subcutaneous route)

var-i-SEL-a VYE-rus VAX-een

Commonly used brand name(s):

In the U.S.

  • Varivax
  • Zostavax

In Canada

  • Varilrix

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Powder for Solution

Therapeutic Class: Vaccine

Uses For Zostavax

Varicella virus vaccine is an immunizing agent that is used to prevent infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The vaccine works by causing your body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the virus.

Varicella (commonly known as chickenpox) is an infection that is easily spread from one person to another. Chickenpox is usually a mild infection but sometimes it can cause serious problems, such as pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and a rare disease called Reye's syndrome.

Immunization against chickenpox is recommended for anyone 12 months of age and older who has not had chickenpox. Immunization against chickenpox is not recommended for infants younger than 12 months of age.

You can be considered to be immune to chickenpox only if you have received the right number of varicella vaccine doses (1 dose if you are between 12 months and 12 years of age; or 2 doses if you are 13 years of age or older). You also are considered to be immune if you have a doctor's diagnosis of a previous chickenpox infection or if you have had a blood test showing that you are immune to varicella.

Varicella virus vaccine (Zostavax®) is also used for the prevention of herpes zoster (commonly known as shingles) in people 60 years of age and older.

This vaccine is to be administered only by or under the supervision of your doctor or other authorized healthcare professional.

Before Using Zostavax

In deciding to use a vaccine, the risks of taking the vaccine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this vaccine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Varivax® (for preventing chickenpox)—Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of varicella virus vaccine in children above 1 year of age. However, varicella virus vaccine is not recommended for infants younger than 12 months of age.

Zostavax® (for preventing shingles)—This vaccine should not be used in children.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of varicella virus vaccine in the elderly.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy CategoryExplanation
All TrimestersCAnimal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast Feeding

Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.

Interactions with Medicines

Receiving this vaccine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Aclarubicin
  • Acyclovir
  • Adalimumab
  • Aldesleukin
  • Alemtuzumab
  • Altretamine
  • Amonafide
  • Amsacrine
  • Asparaginase
  • Aspirin
  • Azacitidine
  • Azathioprine
  • Benorilate
  • Bleomycin
  • Broxuridine
  • Busulfan
  • Capecitabine
  • Carboplatin
  • Carmustine
  • Certolizumab Pegol
  • Chlorambucil
  • Choline Salicylate
  • Cisplatin
  • Cladribine
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Cytarabine
  • Cytarabine Liposome
  • Dacarbazine
  • Dactinomycin
  • Daunorubicin
  • Daunorubicin Citrate Liposome
  • Decitabine
  • Docetaxel
  • Doxifluridine
  • Doxorubicin Hydrochloride
  • Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Liposome
  • Edatrexate
  • Eflornithine
  • Epirubicin
  • Estramustine
  • Etanercept
  • Etoposide
  • Floxuridine
  • Fludarabine
  • Fluorouracil
  • Fotemustine
  • Gallium Nitrate
  • Gemcitabine
  • Golimumab
  • Hydroxyurea
  • Idarubicin
  • Ifosfamide
  • Irinotecan
  • Lomustine
  • Mechlorethamine
  • Melphalan
  • Mercaptopurine
  • Mesalamine
  • Methotrexate
  • Mitolactol
  • Mitomycin
  • Mitotane
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Mycophenolic Acid
  • Olsalazine
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Paclitaxel
  • Pegaspargase
  • Pentostatin
  • Pipobroman
  • Pirarubicin
  • Plicamycin
  • Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent
  • Procarbazine
  • Raltitrexed
  • Rilonacept
  • Rituximab
  • Salicylamide
  • Salicylic Acid
  • Salsalate
  • Sirolimus
  • Sodium Salicylate
  • Sodium Thiosalicylate
  • Streptozocin
  • Tacrolimus
  • Teceleukin
  • Tegafur
  • Temsirolimus
  • Teniposide
  • Thioguanine
  • Thiotepa
  • Topotecan
  • Treosulfan
  • Trimetrexate
  • Trofosfamide
  • Trolamine Salicylate
  • Uracil Mustard
  • Vinblastine
  • Vincristine
  • Vincristine Liposome
  • Vindesine
  • Vinorelbine

Receiving this vaccine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Abatacept
  • Leflunomide

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this vaccine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • AIDS or HIV infection or
  • Blood disorder (weak immune system) or
  • Bone marrow cancer or
  • Fever with an infection or
  • Immune deficiency condition, or family history of, or
  • Leukemia (cancer of the blood) or
  • Lymphoma (cancer of the immune system) or
  • Neomycin allergy, history of or
  • Neutropenia (low white blood cell count) or
  • Tuberculosis, active and untreated—Should not be used in patients with these conditions.
  • Shingles, history of—The Zostavax® vaccine has not been studied in these patients.

Proper Use of varicella virus vaccine

This section provides information on the proper use of a number of products that contain varicella virus vaccine. It may not be specific to Zostavax. Please read with care.

A nurse or other trained health professional will give you or your child this vaccine. This vaccine is given as a shot under your skin.

This medicine comes with a patient information insert. Read and follow the instructions in the insert carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

Tell your doctor before receiving this vaccine if you are severely ill or if you have a fever greater than 101.3 °F.

This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you or your child missed the scheduled dose, call your doctor or your child’s doctor for another appointment.

Precautions While Using Zostavax

It is very important that the doctor check you or your child at regular visits to make sure this vaccine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.

Do not become pregnant for 3 months after receiving varicella virus vaccine without first checking with your doctor. There is a chance that this vaccine may cause problems during pregnancy. If you think you have become pregnant, tell your doctor right away. Your doctor may want you to join a pregnancy registry for patients receiving this vaccine.

Zostavax® should not be used in place of Varivax®.

Zostavax® should not be used in children.

Tell your doctor that you have received this vaccine:

  • If you are to receive blood transfusions or other blood products within 5 months of receiving this vaccine.
  • If you are to receive varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG) or other immune globulins within 2 months after receiving this vaccine.
  • If you are to receive any other live virus vaccines within 1 month of receiving this vaccine.

Do not take aspirin or aspirin products for 6 weeks after receiving this vaccine.

Avoid contact with persons who may be at an increased risk for getting chickenpox for 6 weeks after receiving this vaccine. If you have questions about this, talk to your doctor.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

Zostavax Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
  • Fever over 39 °C (102 °F)
Less common
  • Blue lips and fingernails
  • chest pain
  • chickenpox-like skin rash
  • coughing that sometimes produces a pink frothy sputum
  • decreased urine output
  • difficult, fast, or noisy breathing, sometimes with wheezing
  • dilated neck veins
  • extreme fatigue
  • increased sweating
  • irregular breathing
  • irregular heartbeat
  • pale skin
  • shortness of breath
  • swelling of the ankles, face, fingers, feet, or lower legs
  • tightness in the chest
  • troubled breathing
  • weight gain
  • wheezing
Rare
  • Black, tarry stools
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • confusion
  • difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • hives
  • irritability
  • itching, especially of the feet or hands
  • muscle or joint pain
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • reddening of the skin, especially around the ears
  • severe or continuing headache
  • stiff neck
  • swelling of the glands in the neck
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness, sudden and severe
  • vomiting
Incidence not known
  • Back pain, sudden and severe
  • bleeding gums
  • blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • blurred vision
  • chills
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • headache, sudden and severe
  • inability to move the arms and legs
  • inability to speak
  • itching
  • joint or muscle pain
  • large, flat, blue, or purplish patches in the skin
  • loss of bladder control
  • muscle spasm or jerking of all extremities
  • muscle weakness, sudden and progressing
  • painful blisters on the trunk of the body
  • painful knees and ankles
  • raised red swellings on the skin, the buttocks, legs, or ankles
  • red irritated eyes
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • shakiness and unsteady walk
  • slurred speech
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  • stomach pain
  • sudden loss of consciousness
  • sudden numbness and weakness in the arms and legs
  • temporary blindness
  • unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
  • weakness in the arm and/or leg on one side of the body, sudden and severe
  • weakness of the muscles in your face

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
  • Fever of 37.7 °C (100 °F) or higher, but not above 39 °C (102 °F)
  • hives, itching, pain, redness, soreness, tenderness, or warmth at the injection site
Less common
  • Common cold
  • congestion
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • lack or loss of strength
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • stuffy nose
Incidence not known
  • Bacterial skin infections
  • body aches or pain
  • burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • chills
  • difficulty with moving
  • dizziness
  • dryness or soreness of the throat
  • hoarseness
  • pain, redness, swelling, tenderness, or warmth on the skin
  • red rash with watery, yellow-colored, or pus filled blisters
  • tender, swollen glands in the neck
  • thick yellow to honey-colored crusts
  • voice changes

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

The information contained in the Thomson Healthcare (Micromedex) products as delivered by Drugs.com is intended as an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatment. It is not a substitute for a medical exam, nor does it replace the need for services provided by medical professionals. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before taking any prescription or over the counter drugs (including any herbal medicines or supplements) or following any treatment or regimen. Only your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for you.

The use of the Thomson Healthcare products is at your sole risk. These products are provided "AS IS" and "as available" for use, without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. Thomson Healthcare and Drugs.com make no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, reliability, timeliness, usefulness or completeness of any of the information contained in the products. Additionally, THOMSON HEALTHCARE MAKES NO REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTIES AS TO THE OPINIONS OR OTHER SERVICE OR DATA YOU MAY ACCESS, DOWNLOAD OR USE AS A RESULT OF USE OF THE THOMSON HEALTHCARE PRODUCTS. ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE ARE HEREBY EXCLUDED. Thomson Healthcare does not assume any responsibility or risk for your use of the Thomson Healthcare products.

  • Zostavax Prescribing Information (FDA)
  • Zostavax Consumer Overview
  • Zostavax Detailed Consumer Information (PDR)
  • Zostavax MedFacts Consumer Leaflet (Wolters Kluwer)
  • Zoster Vaccine Live Professional Patient Advice (Wolters Kluwer)

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