Viruses – Zostavax (Shingles Vaccine)

October 17th, 2010

Zostavax is a live vaccine to prevent shingles indicated for patients 60 years of age and older.  I encounter patients with questions about Zostavax on a daily basis in both my The Woodlands and Conroe dermatology offices.  As shingles can be life threatening as well as have significant morbidity, I recommend Zostavax to patients if they have no contraindications to the vaccine.  As Zostavax is a live vaccine, it should not be taken within one month of any other live vaccines.  Also patients with weakened immune systems such as those with lymphoma/leukemia or other bone marrow cancers, HIV, active tuberculosis, patients on chemotherapy causing weakened immune systems, patients with an illness causing a high fever, or patients on immunosuppressant therapy with steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs should not receive the vaccine.  As Zostavax is pregnancy category C, pregnant patients should not receive this vaccine.  Any patient allergic to the antibiotic Neomycin or gelatin should not receive Zostavax.  Booster shots are not needed as this a one time dose.

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