Zostavax is vaccine developed to prevent herpes zoster and its complications (primarily postherpetic neuralgia) in older adults. It contains a higher titer of live, attenuated virus than other varicella vaccines intended for children and younger adults. It increases cell-mediated immunity against varicella zoster virus (VZV) in elderly adults who may have had waning immunity with age.


Indications for vaccination:

(1) age >= 60 years



(1) acute therapy for chickenpox or herpes zoster

(2) acute therapy for postherpetic neuralgia



(1) anaphylaxis or anaphylaxoid reaction to any component in the vaccine (neomycin, gelatin, etc)

(2) pregnancy (unlikely to be an issue for someone > 60 years of age)

(3) active, untreated tuberculosis

(4) primary or acquired immunodeficiency states (AIDS, organ transplant, malignancy, etc)

(5) immunosuppressive therapy (corticosteroids, other)


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