Generic Name: varicella virus vaccine (Subcutaneous route)
var-i-SEL-a VYE-rus VAX-een
Commonly used brand name(s):
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Vaccine
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.
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:
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.
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.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of varicella virus vaccine in the elderly.
|All Trimesters||C||Animal 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.|
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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
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
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.
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