P atient In fo rm atio n about
(pronounced "ZOS tah vax
Generic name: Z oster Vaccine Live
You should read this summary of
information about ZOSTAVAX*
before you are vaccinated. If
you have any questions about
ZOSTAVAX after reading this
leaflet, you should ask your health
care provider. This information
does not take the place of talking
about ZOSTAVAX with your doctor,
nurse, or other health care provider.
Only your health care provider can
decide if ZOSTAVAX is right for you.
What is ZOSTAVAX and how does
ZOSTAVAX is a vaccine that is used
for adults 60 years of age or older to
prevent shingles (also known as zoster).
Who should not get ZOSTAVAX?
You should not get ZOSTAVAX
• are allergic to any of its
• are allergic to gelatin or
• have a weakened immune
system (for example, an immune
deficiency, leukemia, lymphoma,
• take high doses of steroids by
injection or by mouth.
• are pregnant or plan to get
You should not get ZOSTAVAX
to prevent chickenpox.
ZOSTAVAX contains a weakened
chickenpox virus (varicella-zoster
ZOSTAVAX works by helping your
immune system protect you from
getting shingles. If you do get
shingles even though you have
been vaccinated, ZOSTAVAX may
help prevent the nerve pain that
can follow shingles in some people.
ZOSTAVAX may not protect
everyone who gets the vaccine.
ZOSTAVAX cannot be used to treat
shingles once you have it.
What do I need to know about
shingles and the virus that causes it?
Shingles is caused by the same
virus that causes chickenpox. Once
you have had chickenpox, the virus
can stay in your nervous system for
many years. For reasons that are
not fully understood, the virus may
become active again and give you
shingles. Age and problems with
the immune system may increase
your chances of getting shingles.
Shingles is a rash that is usually
on one side of the body. The rash
begins as a cluster of small red
spots that often blister. The rash
can be painful. Shingles rashes
usually last up to 30 days and, for
most people, the pain associated
with the rash lessens as it heals.
* Registered trademark of Merck & Co., Inc.
Merck & Co., Inc.
Whitehouse Station, NJ, USA
All rights reserved
Children should not get
How is ZOSTAVAX given?
ZOSTAVAX is given as a single
dose by injection under the skin.
What should I tell mv health
care provider before I get
You should tell your health care
provider if you:
• have or have had any medical
• take any medicines, including
nonprescription medicines, and
• have any allergies, including
allergies to neomycin or
• had an allergic reaction to
• are pregnant or plan to become
• are breast-feeding.
Tell your health care provider if
you expect to be in close contact
(including household contact)
with newborn infants, someone
who may be pregnant and has
not had chickenpox or been
vaccinated against chickenpox,
or someone who has problems
with their immune system.
Your health care provider can
tell you what situations you may
need to avoid.
What are the possible side effects
The most common side effects that
people in the clinical studies reported
after receiving the vaccine include:
• redness, pain, itching, swelling,
warmth, or bruising where the
shot was given.
The following additional side
effects have been reported in
general use with ZOSTAVAX:
• allergic reactions, which may be
serious and may include difficulty
in breathing or swallowing. If you
have an allergic reaction, call your
doctor right away.
Tell your health care provider if you
have any new or unusual symptoms
after you receive ZOSTAVAX.
What are the ingredients of
Active Ingredient: a weakened form
of the varicella-zoster virus.
Inactive Ingredients: sucrose,
hydrolyzed porcine gelatin, sodium
chloride, monosodium L-glutamate,
sodium phosphate dibasic,
potassium phosphate monobasic,
What else should I know about
Vaccinces and their health care
providers are encouraged to call
1-800-986-8999 to report any
exposure to ZOSTAVAX during
This leaflet summarizes important
information about ZOSTAVAX.
If you would like more information,
talk to your health care
provider or visit the website at
www.ZOSTAVAX.com or call
Issued April 2008
MERCK & CO., INC.
Whitehouse Station, N J 08889, USA