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Zostavax Warnings and Precautions

There are many Zostavax warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to starting treatment. Before getting the vaccine, make sure to let your healthcare provider know if you have a weakened immune system, an active tuberculosis infection, or any allergies. You should not use Zostavax if you are allergic to any components of the drug, are allergic to neomycin or gelatin, or are pregnant.

Zostavax: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Zostavax® (shingles vaccine) if you:
  • Have a weakened immune system, caused by HIV, AIDS, cancer, or other problems
  • Have had a reaction to a vaccine in the past
  • Are allergic to neomycin or gelatin
  • Have an active tuberculosis infection
  • Have any other allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you:
  • Are not feeling well
  • Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Are breastfeeding.
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Precautions and Warnings for Zostavax

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Zostavax include the following:
  • Rarely, people who have received the Zostavax vaccine may transmit the virus to other people who are susceptible to chickenpox (people who have not had chickenpox and have not been vaccinated against chickenpox). It may be a good idea to avoid people who are susceptible to chickenpox (especially susceptible pregnant women).
  • Zostavax is not approved to help prevent chickenpox.
  • No studies have been conducted on whether Zostavax is effective for preventing shingles for more than four years. It is possible that a "booster" vaccination may be recommended in the future.
  • Like most vaccines, Zostavax is not 100 percent effective.
  • If you have an active tuberculosis infection, you should wait to get a Zostavax vaccination.
  • If you are sick or do not feel well, your healthcare provider may decide to wait to give you the Zostavax vaccination.
  • Zostavax can interact with a few different medications (see Zostavax Drug Interactions for more information).
  • Zostavax is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not currently known (see Zostavax and Pregnancy).
  • It is not known whether Zostavax passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Zostavax and Breastfeeding).
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