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Varicella virus vaccine (By injection)

Varicella Virus Vaccine (var-i-SEL-a VYE-rus VAX-een)

Varivax® prevents chicken pox and Zostavax® prevents shingles. Both are caused by varicella virus.

Brand Name(s):

Varivax, Zostavax

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This vaccine is not right for everyone. You should not receive it if you had an allergic reaction to varicella virus vaccine, gelatin, or neomycin, or if you are pregnant. You should not receive it if you have a fever, an immune system problem, AIDS or HIV, a blood or bone marrow disorder, or tuberculosis.

How to Use This Medicine:

Injectable

  • 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 health provider will give you this medicine.
  • Varivax®:
    • Most people will need 2 shots. Children usually receive one shot at 12 to 15 months of age and a second shot between 4 and 6 years of age. Teenagers and adults should have a second shot 4 weeks after the first dose.
  • Zostavax®:
    • Only 1 dose is needed.
  • Read and follow the patient instructions that come with this medicine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • Missed dose: It is important that Varivax® be given at the proper time. If a scheduled shot is missed, 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.

  • You should not receive this vaccine if you are also taking cancer medicines or steroid medicine.
  • Tell your doctor if you plan to get a flu shot or other vaccines. Zostavax® should not be given with Pneumovax® 23 pneumococcal vaccine.
  • Children and adolescents should not take aspirin or medicines that contain aspirin (including cold medicines) for 6 weeks after receiving this vaccine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant. Do not become pregnant for 3 months after you receive this vaccine without first checking with your doctor.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding, or if you have received a blood transfusion, other blood products, or an immune globulin.
  • You may be able to pass the virus to other people after your get this vaccine. You should avoid close contact with people at high risk for chickenpox for 6 weeks after you receive this vaccine. Some examples of people who are at high risk are pregnant women, newborn babies, and those with immune system problems (including bone marrow disease, cancer, or AIDS). Talk to your doctor if you have questions.

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
  • Cough, chills, runny or stuffy nose, or cold-like symptoms
  • High fever (at least 102 degrees F in children)

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Ear pain
  • Mild skin rash, itching, or dryness
  • Pain, redness, itching, swelling, rash, or a lump where the shot was given

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: 6/16/2017
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