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ZOSTAVAX, the Shingles vaccine, is approved by the FDA for adults 50 years of age and older.

ZOSTAVAX is not a treatment for Shingles—it's a vaccine you can get now to help reduce your risk of getting Shingles in the future. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that appropriate adults 60 years of age or older get vaccinated to help prevent Shingles.

ZOSTAVAX is given as a single shot. ZOSTAVAX cannot be used to treat Shingles, or the nerve pain that may follow Shingles, once you have it. And the sooner you get vaccinated, the better your chances of protecting yourself from Shingles. So talk to your health care professional soon about ZOSTAVAX.

How ZOSTAVAX works.

ZOSTAVAX works by helping your immune system protect you from getting Shingles. It is thought that ZOSTAVAX does this by helping to provide a boost to the immune system—the body's natural defense system— to help control or suppress the Shingles virus.

The same virus that causes Shingles also causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox, the Shingles virus never left your body, but throughout life, your immune system has kept it in check. It did this by developing specific defenses that help it suppress the virus.

Because the immune system weakens as you age, the body’s immunity to the Shingles virus declines. When that happens, it can reactivate as the painful, blistering rash of Shingles. This is why your chances of developing Shingles increase as you get older.

ZOSTAVAX is believed to boost your immune system so it is better able to keep the Shingles virus in check.


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ZOSTAVAX is a vaccine used for adults 50 years of age or older to prevent Shingles (also known as zoster).

Important Safety Information

  • ZOSTAVAX does not protect everyone, so some people who get the vaccine may still get Shingles.
  • You should not get ZOSTAVAX if you are allergic to any of its ingredients, including gelatin or neomycin, have a weakened immune system, take high doses of steroids, or are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not get ZOSTAVAX to prevent chickenpox.
  • Talk to your health care professional if you plan to get ZOSTAVAX at the same time as PNEUMOVAX®23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent) because it may be better to get these vaccines at least 4 weeks apart.
  • Possible side effects include redness, pain, itching, swelling, hard lump, warmth, or bruising at the injection site, as well as headache.
  • ZOSTAVAX contains a weakened chickenpox virus. Tell your health care professional if you will be in close contact with newborn infants, someone who may be pregnant and has not had chickenpox or been vaccinated against chickenpox, or someone who has problems with their immune system. Your health care professional can tell you what situations you may need to avoid.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please read the Patient Information for ZOSTAVAX and discuss it with your health care professional. The physician Prescribing Information also is available.

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