Shingles Home > Zostavax and Pregnancy
Zostavax is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. Although no studies have been conducted on Zostavax and pregnancy, the vaccine is not recommended for any woman of reproductive age.
Zostavax® (shingles vaccine) is a vaccine used to prevent shingles in people 50 years old and older. It is not recommended for women of reproductive age. No human or animal studies have been conducted on whether Zostavax is safe for use during pregnancy.
Zostavax is specifically not recommended for pregnant women, and women should avoid getting pregnant for three months after receiving Zostavax.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a pregnancy category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that have not been studied in pregnant humans but do appear to cause harm to the fetus in animal studies. Also, medicines that have not been studied in any pregnant women or animals are automatically given a pregnancy Category C rating (this is the case with Zostavax).
Zostavax contains a weakened (but still alive) version of the varicella-zoster virus -- the virus responsible for chickenpox and shingles. If a pregnant woman gets chickenpox, serious problems (including birth defects) can occur. It is not known if Zostavax also poses this risk.
If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, let your healthcare provider know. He or she will consider both the benefits and risks of Zostavax during pregnancy before making a recommendation for your particular situation.