Varicella Virus Vaccine (ver-a-SEL-la VYE-rus vak-seen)
Prevents varicella virus (chickenpox) in adults and children 12 months and older. Some types of this vaccine (such as Zostavax®) are used to prevent herpes zoster (shingles) in adults 60 years and older.
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to varicella virus vaccine, or to gelatin or neomycin. You should not get this vaccine if you are pregnant, if you have a blood or bone marrow disorder, AIDS, tuberculosis, or an infection with fever. Do not receive this vaccine if you are receiving steroid medicine (such as prednisone or dexamethasone), medicine to treat cancer, or other medicines that keep your body from fighting infection. One type of this vaccine (called Zostavax®) should not be given to children.
How to Use This Medicine
- Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin.
- A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
- Children 12 months to 12 years old may need a second shot within 3 months after receiving the first vaccine. Teenagers older than 13 years and adults should have a "booster" shot 4 to 8 weeks after the first vaccine. Adults receiving Zostavax® should receive only one dose of the vaccine unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
If a dose is missed:
- If you miss your scheduled shot, call your doctor to make another appointment as soon as possible.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Children and teenagers should not take aspirin or medicines that contain aspirin (such as some cold medicines) for 6 weeks after being given varicella vaccine. Carefully check the label of any pain, headache, or cold medicine you use to be sure it does not contain aspirin or salicylic acid.
- After receiving the Varivax® vaccine, you should not receive a varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG) or other immune globulin for at least 2 months.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away. Avoid getting pregnant for 3 months after getting this vaccine.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding.
- You may be able to pass the virus to other people after getting this vaccine. People who are most at risk of catching the virus from you are pregnant women, newborn babies, and people whose bodies cannot fight infection (such as with bone marrow disease, cancer drug treatment, or AIDS). Talk to your doctor about this risk.
- If you develop a rash after getting the varicella vaccine, avoid close contact with people at high risk for catching the virus until after your rash is gone and any skin sores have completely healed.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you have recently had a blood or plasma transfusion or received immune globulin.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
- Blistering, peeling, red skin rash.
- Chest pain.
- High fever.
- Shortness of breath, cold sweat, and bluish-colored skin.
- Skin rash that looks like chickenpox.
- Unusual bleeding or bruising.
- Weakness or loss of feeling in any part of your body.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Cough, chills, runny or stuffy nose, cold-like symptoms.
- Diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite.
- Feeling tired, depressed, nervous, or irritable.
- Headache, ear pain, joint pain.
- Mild skin rash, itching, or dryness.
- Pain, redness, swelling, rash, or a hard lump where the shot is given.
- Stiff neck.
- Trouble sleeping.