Zoster Vaccine

Table of contents

  • Brand Names
  • Pharmacologic Category
  • Mechanism of Action
  • Therapeutic Use
  • Pregnancy and Lactation Implications
  • Contraindications
  • Warnings and Precautions
  • Adverse Reactions
  • Drug Interactions
  • Dosage
  • Special Considerations

Brand Names


Austria: Zostavax; Belgium: Zostavax; Denmark: Zostavax; Estonia: Zostavax; Finland: Zostavax; Germany: Zostavax; Greece: Zostavax; Hungary: Zostavax; Ireland: Zostavax; Italy: Zostavax; Latvia: Zostavax; Lithuania: Zostavax; Luxembourg: Zostavax; Netherlands: Zostavax; Poland: Zostavax; Portugal: Zostavax; Romania: Zostavax; Slovakia: Zostavax; Spain: Zostavax; Sweden: Zostavax.

North America

Canada: Zostavax; USA: Zostavax.


Japan: Zostavax.

Drug combinations


Pharmacologic Category

Serums, Toxoids, and Vaccines; Vaccines. Live Viral Vaccine. (ATC-Code: J07BK02).

Mechanism of action

Stimulates active immunity to disease caused by varicella-zoster virus. Protects against development of herpes zoster, with highest efficacy in patients 60-69 years of age. May also reduce severity of complications, including postherpetic neuralgia, in patients who develop zoster following vaccination.

Therapeutic use

Prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in patients ≥60 years of age.

Pregnancy and lactiation implications

Animal reproduction studies not conducted. Use during pregnancy contraindicated. Risk to fetus following exposure to wild-type varicella zoster virus is small and risk following exposure from attenuated vaccine probably even less. Excretion in breast milk unknown (use caution in nursing women).

Unlabeled use


Hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine. Individuals with leukemia, lymphomas, or other malignant neoplasms affecting bone marrow or lymphatic systems. Primary and acquired immunodeficiency states including AIDS or clinical manifestations of HIV. Those receiving immunosuppressive therapy (including high-dose corticosteroids). Pregnancy. Other contraindications include: patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplant; those receiving recombinant human immune modulators, particularly antitumor necrosis factor agents (e.g. adalimumab, infliximab, etanercept); or with unspecified cellular immunodeficiency (exception: patients with impaired humoral immunity may receive vaccine).

Warnings and precautions

Anaphylactoid and/or hypersensitivity reactions might occur. Immunization should be delayed during the course of acute febrile illness. May be administered in mild acute illness (with or without fever). Not for use in treatment of postherpetic neuropathy. Defer treatment in active untreated tuberculosis. Not for use in treatment of active zoster outbreak. May be used in previous history of zoster. Medications active against herpesvirus family (e.g. acyclovir, famciclovir, valacyclovir) may interfere with zoster vaccine. Not for use in patients <60 years of age. Use contraindicated in severely immunocompromised patients (may have reduced response to vaccination). Patients receiving corticosteroids in low-to-moderate doses, topical (inhaled, nasal, skin), local injection (intra-articular, bursal, tendon) may receive vaccine. Zoster vaccine not a substitute for varicella vaccine and should not be used in children. Contains gelatin. Contains neomycin.



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