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Generic name: zoster vaccine live [ZOS-ter-vak-SEEN-LYV]
Drug class: viral vaccines

The Zostavax vaccine was removed from the United States in November 2020. The information on this site is meant solely for educational purposes.

What is Zostavax?

Zostavax is a medication used to stop the herpes zoster virus (shingles) in those who are 50 or older.Herpes zoster is caused by a similar virus (varicella), which causes chickenpox in kids. If the virus is active in a mature adult, it may cause herpes zoster or shingles. The shingles vaccine is an active vaccine that can help stop shingles.

Zostavax is a vaccine that exposes you to a small amount of live virus. This triggers the body to build immunity against the disease. The vaccine is not able to deal with an active disease that is already present in your body.

Zostavax is a medication used to treat the herpes zoster virus (shingles) in those who are 50 or older.Zostavax is not a treatment for nerve pain or shingles that are caused by it (post-herpetic neuralgia).


It is not recommended to take Zostavax when you are pregnant, if you suffer from untreated tuberculosis, have a weak immune system, have leukemia or tumors that attack bone marrow, or have an allergy history to neomycin or gelatin.

You may still get the vaccine even if you've got an unaddressed cold. If you are suffering from tuberculosis or another serious illness that causes fever or a bacterial illness, wait until you improve before you can receive Zostavax.

Don't get this vaccine if you suffer from cancerous leukemia, lymphoma (or other cancers that affect the bone marrow), or an allergy to neomycin (Mycifradin, Neo-Fradin, Neo-Tab, Neo-Fradin). It is not recommended to receive Zostavax when you are pregnant or if you suffer from untreated tuberculosis, any form of cancer that affects bone marrow, or an immune system that is weak due to a disease (such as HIV and AIDS) or through the use of drugs like steroids or chemotherapy.

Infection with herpes zoster (shingles) is more harmful to your health than obtaining this vaccine. But, as with all medicines, Zostavax may result in side effects, but the chance of serious adverse side effects is extremely low.

Before you take this drug

You shouldn't be receiving Zostavax if you are:

  • Active tuberculosis that is not treated;
  • Leukemia, lymphoma, or another cancer that affects the bone marrow
  • An allergy history to neomycin or gelatin (Mycifradin, Neo-Fradin, Neo-Tab, Neo-Fradin);
  • An insufficient immune system, which is due to illness (such as HIV or AIDS) or taking medications like chemotherapy or steroids;
  • If you are pregnant.

To make sure that Zostavax is suitable for you, inform your doctor if you are suffering from:

  • An allergy history to vaccines;
  • If you've had a "live" vaccine within the last 4 weeks,
  • If you've never experienced chickenpox before, it is unlikely that you have ever had it.

It is still possible to receive the vaccine even if you suffer from an unaddressed cold. If you are suffering from tuberculosis or another serious illness that causes fever or another type of illness, wait until you improve before you can receive this vaccine.

Consult your physician if a person in your family is afflicted by a weak immune system. In the short time following the Zostavax injection, there is a chance for the virus to live and be transmitted from you to someone else who is suffering from an insufficient immune system.

It is unclear if Zostavax can harm an unborn baby. It is not recommended for pregnant women. Do not become pregnant for at least three months following the time you received Zostavax. Zostavax.

It's not clear if the zoster vaccine is absorbed into breast milk or if it is harmful to the nursing infant. Contact your doctor if you are nursing a child.Zostavax is not a prescription drug for use by anyone less than 18 years of age.

How to take Zostavax?

Zostavax is administered in the form of an injection (shot) beneath the skin. The vaccine will be administered at a doctor's office or a different clinic.

Zostavax is typically only given once. Unless your doctor advises otherwise, you do not require a booster shot.Check all information about your patient, such as medication guides and instruction sheets, that you receive. Ask your physician or pharmacist if there are questions.

Details on dosage

Usual Adult Dose for Herpes Zoster—Prophylaxis:

0.65 milliliters subcutaneously, in the deltoid
Comment: Do not administer intramuscularly or via IV.
Use: To prevent the occurrence of herpes zoster (shingles) in people who are 50 or older.

What happens if I miss the dose?

Because Zostavax is administered as an injection that is only given once, it is unlikely to follow a strict dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

A dose of the vaccine that is too high is not likely to occur.

What should be avoided?

If you experience an outbreak of a skin rash that appears like shingles following the vaccine, try to avoid coming into contact with people who have not had chickenpox (especially babies, pregnant women, or anyone who has an immune system that is weak). Beware of contact with those who have shingles in the event that you experience an allergic reaction or rash when the vaccine is injected into the skin.

Do not get another "live" vaccine for at least 4 weeks following your Zostavax vaccination, or you could get a severe illness. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), oral polio, rotavirus, smallpox, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), H1N1 influenza, and nasal flu (influenza) vaccines.

Side effects of Zostavax

It is not recommended to receive another shot of Zostavax if you experience a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction following the first dose.

Note down any side effects you may experience following the administration of the vaccine. If you need to get another dose, it is important to inform the doctor whether the prior shots caused any adverse effects.

An infection with shingles can be significantly more hazardous for your health than getting the vaccine to guard against it. Like all medicines, it can trigger negative side effects, but the chance of serious side effects is very minimal.

Contact a medical professional immediately. If you exhibit symptoms of an allergy reaction to Zostavax, such as hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of your lips, face, and tongue,

See your doctor right away. If you suffer from:

  • Swelling glands, sore throat symptoms of flu;
  • Breathing issues
  • A painful or severe skin rash.

Common Zostavax adverse effects include:

  • Headaches,
  • Discomfort, redness, and warmth Itching, pain, or swelling around the site where the shot was administered

This isn't a complete list of all the side effects. Others could happen. Contact your physician for advice regarding medical adverse effects. You can report any adverse effects directly to Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967. US Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-822-7967.

Interaction with other drugs

Before receiving this vaccine, inform your physician about any other vaccinations you've received.

Other medications can interfere with Zostavax, like medications that are prescribed and available over the counter, as well as vitamins and herbal products. Be sure to inform your health professionals about any medications you are taking currently and any medicines that you decide to stop or begin taking.