Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

ZOSTAVAX (PF) subcutaneous

Important Note

Warnings
Uses
Side Effects
Precautions
Interactions
Overdose
ZOSTAVAX (PF) subcutaneous Uses

This medication is a vaccine used to prevent zoster (shingles) in adults 50 years and older. Zoster is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have been infected with chickenpox (usually in childhood), the virus can live in your body's nerve roots in an inactive form. For reasons that are not fully understood, the virus may become active again. This causes shingles with symptoms of rash, blisters, and pain.

This vaccine works by boosting the body's natural defense (immunity) against the zoster virus so that symptoms of shingles do not develop. It should not be used for treating active shingles, nerve pain caused by shingles, or for the prevention of chickenpox.

This vaccine should not be used in children.

How to use ZOSTAVAX (PF) subcutaneous

Read the Vaccine Information Statement available from your health care provider before receiving the vaccine. If you have any questions, consult your health care provider.

This vaccine is given by injection under the skin by a health care professional. It is usually given in the upper arm.

ZOSTAVAX (PF) subcutaneous Side Effects

Redness, itching, swelling, warmth, bruising, and pain at the injection site may occur. Headache may also occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: chickenpox.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Contact your doctor for medical advice about side effects. The following numbers do not provide medical advice, but in the US, you may report side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967. In Canada, you may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

ZOSTAVAX (PF) subcutaneous Precautions

Before receiving this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to any vaccines; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as neomycin, gelatin), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Before receiving this vaccination, consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have: immune system problems (e.g., due to HIV, cancer treatment, organ transplant), untreated active tuberculosis.

Before receiving this vaccination, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: current fever/illness, previous reaction to other vaccine.

Caution is advised if you have regular close contact with family/household members with weakened immune systems (e.g., due to cancer) or who may be pregnant. It is not known if infection may occur from close contact with someone who has received this vaccine. Consult your doctor for more details.

This vaccine is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Pregnancy should also be avoided for 3 months after receiving this vaccine. Consult your doctor for more details.

It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

ZOSTAVAX (PF) subcutaneous Interactions

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.

Some products that may interact with this drug include: cancer chemotherapy, corticosteroids (such as prednisone, dexamethasone), drugs that lower the immune system (such as cyclosporine, tacrolimus), certain antiviral drugs (such as acyclovir, famciclovir, valacyclovir).

ZOSTAVAX (PF) subcutaneous Overdose

Overdose with this vaccine is highly unlikely. If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.

NOTES:

This vaccine is given as a single dose.

Although this vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of getting shingles, it may not fully protect everyone who receives the vaccine.

Consult your doctor or pharmacist about the need for other vaccines to prevent potentially severe illness (e.g., flu shots).

MISSED DOSE:

Not applicable.

STORAGE:

Not applicable. This vaccine is given in a doctor's office and will not be stored at home.

Information last revised October 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.

See 62 Reviews for this Drug. - OR -

Review this Treatment

Find a Drug:

by name or medical condition or shape/color (Pill Identifier)

(for example: aspirin)

(for example: diabetes)

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
 
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Ask the pharmacist

Questions about medications? Get expert answers by video or live chat about allergies, pregnancy, sleep, and more.
See the Ask the Pharmacist event schedule.

Ask a Question

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Can you catch one?
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
mosquito
Stings, bites, burns, and more.
Allentown, PA
Are you living in one?
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.

WebMD the app

Get trusted health information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

Find Out More

IMPORTANT: About This Section and Other User-Generated Content on WebMD

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatment or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.