What is Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine), and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

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Zoster vaccine contains live, attenuated (weakened) varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Varicella-zoster causes chickenpox and then becomes dormant in nerves. VZV reactivates and causes herpes zoster (shingles or zoster) later in life (usually 60 years of age or older) when immunity against VZV declines. Zoster vaccine stimulates the immune system to develop immunity against VZV. The FDA approved zoster vaccine in May 2006.

What brand names are available for Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine)?


Is Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine) available as a generic drug?


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Do I need a prescription for Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine)?


What are the side effects of Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine)?

The most common adverse effects are:

Some individuals may experience shingles or chickenpox-like rashes within 42 days after receiving zoster vaccine. Transmission of VZV virus from vaccinated individuals to other individuals occurs rarely.

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What is the dosage for Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine)?

Zoster vaccine is injected subcutaneously (under the skin) in the upper arm. The recommended dose is 0.65 ml.

Which drugs or supplements interact with Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine)?

In clinical studies, concomitant use of zoster vaccine and Pneumovax reduced the activity of zoster vaccine.

Is Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine) safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Zoster vaccine is not used for preventing shingles in women of child bearing age and should not be administered to pregnant women.

Zoster vaccine is not used for preventing shingles in nursing mothers.

What else should I know about Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine)?

What preparations of Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine) are available?

Powder for Injection: 0.65 ml

How should I keep Zoster Vaccine Live (Shingles Vaccine) stored?

Powder should be stored frozen at 15 C (5 F) or colder until ready to use. Diluent should be stored at room temperature (20 C – 25 C [68 F – 77 F]) or refrigerated at (2 C – 8 C [36 F – 46 F]).

Medically Reviewed on 3/13/2019


Medically reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP; Board Certified Emergency Medicine


FDA Prescribing Information for Zostavax