Shingles Vaccine

ZOSTAVAX Product Insert – Merck

ZOSTAVAX is a live attenuated virus vaccine indicated for prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in individuals 50 years of age and older.  (Page 1)

The duration of protection beyond 4 years after vaccination with ZOSTAVAX is unknown.  The need for revaccination has not been defined.  (Page 3)

The most frequent adverse reactions reported in clinical trials were headache (9.4%) and injection site reactions (pain [53.9%], erythema [48.1%] and swelling [40.4%]).  (Page 4)

The placebo use in clinical trials was a stabilizer contained in Zostavax.  Although it was not indicated what was used, gelatin and MSG are stabilizers used in the vaccine.

ZOSTAVAX ingredients: sucrose, hydrolyzed porcine gelatin, monosodium L-glutamate, sodium phosphate dibasic, potassium phosphate monobasic, neomycin, potassium chloride, residual components of MRC-5 cells including DNA and protein (from aborted fetal tissue), bovine calf serum.

Since the virus involved in chicken pox and shingles is the same (called varicella or varicella zoster), the vaccines for these diseases is very similar as well.  The primary difference between them is the amount of antigen, or virus contained in the dose of each vaccine.  ZOSTAVAX uses about 14 times the viral concentration compared to VARIVAX.

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