July 24, 2016
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"March 24, 2011 - People age 50 and older can now get Merck's Zostavax shingles vaccine, the FDA today ruled.

The vaccine already was approved for people age 60 and older. The approval is based on a Merck clinical trial that showed the"...





Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.


Hypersensitivity Reactions

Serious adverse reactions, including anaphylaxis, have occurred with ZOSTAVAX. Adequate treatment provisions, including epinephrine injection (1:1,000), should be available for immediate use should an anaphylactic/anaphylactoid reaction occur.

Transmission Of Vaccine Virus

Transmission of vaccine virus may occur between vaccinees and susceptible contacts. 5.3 Concurrent Illness Deferral should be considered in acute illness (for example, in the presence of fever) or in patients with active untreated tuberculosis. 5.4 Limitations of Vaccine Effectiveness Vaccination with ZOSTAVAX does not result in protection of all vaccine recipients. The duration of protection beyond 4 years after vaccination with ZOSTAVAX is unknown. The need for revaccination has not been defined.

Patient Counseling Information

Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (PATIENT INFORMATION).

  • Question the patient about reactions to previous vaccines.
  • Provide a copy of the patient information (PPI) located at the end of this insert and discuss any questions or concerns.
  • Inform patient of the benefits and risks of ZOSTAVAX, including the potential risk of transmitting the vaccine virus to susceptible individuals, such as immunosuppressed or immunodeficient individuals or pregnant women who have not had chickenpox.
  • Instruct patient to report any adverse reactions or any symptoms of concern to their healthcare professional.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility

ZOSTAVAX has not been evaluated for its carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or its potential to impair fertility.

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category

Contraindication [see CONTRAINDICATIONS].

ZOSTAVAX should not be administered to pregnant females since wild-type varicella can sometimes cause congenital varicella infection. Pregnancy should be avoided for three months following vaccination with ZOSTAVAX [see CONTRAINDICATIONS and PATIENT INFORMATION].

Pregnancy Registry

From 1995 to 2013, Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., maintained a Pregnancy Registry to monitor fetal outcomes following inadvertent administration of VARIVAX® during pregnancy or within three months prior to conception. In 2006, reports of exposure to two other varicella (Oka/Merck)-containing vaccines, ProQuad® (Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella Virus Vaccine Live) and ZOSTAVAX, were added to the Registry. The Pregnancy Registry has been discontinued. As of March 2011, 811 women with pregnancy outcome information available for analysis were prospectively enrolled following vaccination with VARIVAX, within three months prior to conception or any time during pregnancy. Of these women, 170 were seronegative at the time of exposure and 627 women had an unknown serostatus. The remaining women were seropositive. Nine exposures to either ProQuad or ZOSTAVAX have been reported that met criteria for inclusion into the Registry.

None of the 820 women who received a varicella-containing vaccine delivered infants with abnormalities consistent with congenital varicella syndrome.

All exposures to VARIVAX, ProQuad, or ZOSTAVAX during pregnancy or within three months prior to conception should be reported as suspected adverse reactions by contacting Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., at 1-877-888-4231 or VAERS at 1-800-822-7967 or www.vaers.hhs.gov.

Nursing Mothers

ZOSTAVAX is not indicated in women who are nursing. It is not known whether VZV is secreted in human milk. Therefore, because some viruses are secreted in human milk, caution should be exercised if ZOSTAVAX is administered to a nursing woman.8

Pediatric Use

ZOSTAVAX is not indicated for prevention of primary varicella infection (Chickenpox) and should not be used in children and adolescents.

Geriatric Use

The median age of subjects enrolled in the largest (N=38,546) clinical study of ZOSTAVAX was 69 years (range 59-99 years). Of the 19,270 subjects who received ZOSTAVAX, 10,378 were 60-69 years of age, 7,629 were 70-79 years of age, and 1,263 were 80 years of age or older.

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 10/14/2014


Zostavax - User Reviews

Zostavax User Reviews

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