Patient Information about Zostavax
What is Zostavax and how does it work?
Zostavax is a weakened chickenpox virus. It works by helping your immune system protect you from getting shingles. If you do get shingles even though you have been vaccinated, Zostavax may help prevent the nerve pain that can follow shingles in some people. Zostavax does not protect everyone, so some people who get the vaccine may still get the shingles.
What do I need to know about shingles and the virus that causes it?
For reasons that are not fully understood, the chickenpox virus may become active again and give you shingles. Age and problems with your immune system may increase your chances of getting s
hingles. Shingles is a rash that is usually on one side of the body. The rash begins as a cluster of small red spots that often blister. The rash can be painful. Shingles rashes usually last up to 30 days and for most people the pain lessens as it heals.
Who should not get Zostavax?
You should not get Zostavax if you:
- Are allergic to any of its ingredients
- Are allergic to gelatin or neomycin
- Have a weakened immune system
- Take high doses of steroids by injection or mouth
- Are pregnant or plan to get pregnant
- You should not get Zostavax to prevent chickenpox
- Children should not get Zostavax
How is Zostavax given?
Zostavax is given as a single dose by injection under the skin.
What should I tell my physician before I get Zostavax?
- Have or have had any medical problems
- Take any medicines, including non-prescription medicines and dietary supplements’
- Have any allergies including neomycin or gelatin
- Had an allergic reaction to another vaccine
- Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
- Are breast feeding
- Your physician can discuss other situations to avoid
Can I get Zostavax with other vaccines?
If you are planning on receiving a flu or pneumovax vaccine, discuss this with your physician.
What are the possible side effects of Zostavax?
- Redness, pain, itching, swelling, hard lump
- Warmth or bruising where the shot was given
- Headache - Allergic reactions, which may be serious and may include difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
- Chickenpox - Fever
- Hives at the injection site
- Joint pain - Muscle pain
- Nausea - Rash
- Rash at the injection site
- Swollen glands near the injection site