Varicella virus vaccine (Injection)
Varicella Virus Vaccine (var-i-SEL-a VYE-rus VAX-een)
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 of age and older.
Varivax, ZostavaxThere 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 receive this vaccine if you are pregnant or may get pregnant, or if you have a blood or bone marrow disorder, AIDS, tuberculosis, or an infection with fever. Do not receive this vaccine if you are taking a steroid medicine (such as prednisone or dexamethasone), a medicine to treat cancer, or other medicines that make your immune system weak. The Zostavax® brand of this vaccine 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.
- With Varivax®, 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.
- This medicine comes with patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
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.
- Patients who receive the Zostavax® vaccine should not receive the Pneumovax® 23 vaccine at the same time. Pneumovax® 23 is given to help prevent pneumococcal infections. Using both vaccines together may result in the Zostavax® vaccine not working as well as normal.
- 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. Also, you will need to wait at least 5 months after receiving immune globulin, VZIG, or a blood or plasma transfusion before you can get the Varivax® vaccine.
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, or red skin rash.
- Chest pain.
- High fever.
- Seizures (convulsions).
- Shortness of breath, cold sweat, and bluish-colored skin.
- Skin rash that looks like chickenpox.
- Swollen glands where the shot was given.
- 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, or cold-like symptoms.
- Diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, stomach pain, or loss of appetite.
- Feeling tired, depressed, nervous, or irritable.
- Headache, ear pain, joint, or muscle pain.
- Mild skin rash, itching, or dryness.
- Pain, redness, itching, swelling, rash, or a hard lump where the shot is given.
- Stiff neck.
- Trouble with sleeping.
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
Last Updated: 1/4/2011
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