Zoster Vaccine (Zostavax) Vaccine Type | Usage | Precautions | Side Effects

Zoster Vaccine (Zostavax) Vaccine Type | Usage | Precautions | Side Effects

  • Shingles or Zoster is caused by Varicella-Zoster virus (VZV), a DNA virus of the Herpesviridae family.
  • Primary infection with the virus presents as Chicken pox (varicella), the virus then becomes dormant in the dorsal root ganglion.
  • The virus may become reactivated causing a vesicular, painful rash along the dermatomal distribution of the nerve involved. This condition is called Zoster, commonly known as Shingles. Post-herpetic neuralgia is the most common complication.
  • The incidence of Shingles increases with increasing age. It particularly affects those aged 60 years and older.

Vaccine Type

  • Live – attenuated vaccine.

Available as

  • Zoster Vaccine (Zostavax): contains live-attenuated VZ virus, given as a single dose subcutaneous injection.


  • In those aged 60 years and older the vaccine is 51% effective in preventing Zoster and 67% effective in preventing post-herpetic neuralgia.
  • Immunity wanes after 5 years of vaccination.


  • The vaccine is currently recommended for anyone aged 60 years or older irrespective of whether the patient has previously had chickenpox or not. Those who’ve had zoster previously should also get the vaccine to prevent further episodes of the disease.
  • It may be considered for use in those aged 50-59 years after considering the benefits versus the potential risks of vaccination


Contraindicated in:

  • Patients who had severe allergic reaction to previous dose of the vaccine, Neomycin, Gelatin, or any other component of the vaccine.
  • Pregnant women: A women who is vaccinated should wait for at least 4 weeks after vaccination before getting pregnant.
  • Patients with AIDS, leukemia, lymphoma, undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy, or those with immunocompromising conditions (including steroids use).


  • People with moderate or severe acute illness should wait till they are healthy again before getting the vaccine.