varicella virus vaccine live (PF) 1,350 unit/0.5 mL subcutaneous susp

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Medication name

Generic name:
Varicella virus vaccine (chickenpox) - injection

Pronunciation
(VAR-i-SEL-a)

Brand name(s)
Varivax

Uses

This vaccine is used to help prevent varicella virus infection (commonly known as chickenpox). Chickenpox is a common childhood illness, but can cause more serious illnesses in people who have not yet had either chickenpox or this vaccine. Serious (rarely fatal) problems (such as pneumonia and inflammation of the liver or brain) may rarely occur from this infection, and first-time infections in adults may be very severe. It may also cause a very serious brain/liver condition called Reyes syndrome in children or teenagers. If you are infected while pregnant, your unborn infant may be harmed. Vaccination during childhood may help prevent this infection and the problems that can occur.

The virus in this vaccine is alive, but it has been weakened (attenuated) and therefore has a decreased ability to cause illness. It works by helping the body produce immunity (protection) that will prevent you from getting chickenpox, or will lessen the seriousness of the infection. As with any vaccine, it may not fully protect everyone who receives it. People who get chickenpox after getting the vaccine usually have mild cases with fewer blisters, fewer fevers, and faster recoveries.

The vaccine is recommended for children 12 months and older and adults who have not had chickenpox or received a varicella vaccination before.

How to use

Read all vaccine information available from your health care professional before receiving the vaccine. If you have any questions, ask your health care professional.

This vaccine is usually given by injection under the skin by a health care professional.

Depending on the brand, children aged 12 months to 12 years usually receive 1 or 2 doses. Teenagers 13 years and older and adults usually receive 2 doses 4 to 8 weeks apart. Closely follow the vaccination schedule provided by the health care professional.

Side effects

Pain/redness/bruising/swelling at the injection site, fever, or mild chickenpox-like rash may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your health care professional promptly.

Remember that your health care professional has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:

  • rash
  • itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
  • severe dizziness
  • trouble breathing

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your health care professional.

Contact the health care professional for medical advice about side effects. The following numbers do not provide medical advice, but in the US you may report side effects to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) at 1-800-822-7967. In Canada, you may call the Vaccine Safety Section at Public Health Agency of Canada at 1-866-844-0018.

Precautions

Before receiving varicella virus vaccine, tell your health care professional if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as neomycin, gelatin), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your health care professional for more details.

Before using this vaccine, tell your health care professional your medical history, especially of:

  • illness with a high fever over 101 degrees F (38 degrees C)
  • immune system problems (such as due to HIV infection, cancer treatment, organ transplant)
  • decreased immune function from other medications (see also Drug Interactions)
  • untreated tuberculosis (TB) infection

There is a small risk that you may expose others to infection with chickenpox for up to 6 weeks after you have been vaccinated. If you develop a rash after getting the vaccine, you should avoid being in the same room with people with immune system problems, pregnant women who have not had chickenpox, children/partners of mothers who have not had chickenpox, and newborn babies born at less than 28 weeks of pregnancy until the rash has dried and crusted over.

This vaccine must not be used during pregnancy. There is some risk that it may harm an unborn baby. If you have been vaccinated with varicella virus vaccine, you should not become pregnant for at least 3 months after the vaccination. Discuss the possible risks with your health care professional.

It is unknown if the varicella virus in this vaccine passes into breast milk. Consult your health care professional before breast-feeding.

Drug interactions

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your health care professional. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.

Some products that may interact with this vaccine include:

  • chemotherapy
  • corticosteroids (such as prednisone, dexamethasone)
  • drugs that lower the immune system (such as cyclosporine, tacrolimus, mycophenolate)
  • certain antiviral drugs (such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir)

All children and teenagers should avoid aspirin or aspirin-like medications (such as salsalate) for 6 weeks after vaccination.

Postpone vaccination with varicella vaccine for at least 5 months if you have received a blood transfusion or other blood products (such as immune globulin, varicella zoster immune globulin). You may not develop enough antibodies to protect you from infection.

Other vaccines may be given at the same time as this vaccine, but they should be given with separate syringes and at different injection sites.

Overdose

Not applicable.

Notes

Keep vaccine records for yourself and all of your children, and after your children are grown, give the records to them and their health care professionals. This will prevent unnecessary re-vaccinations.

Missed dose

It is important that you receive each vaccination as scheduled. Be sure to ask when each dose should be received and make a note on a calendar to help you remember. If you miss an appointment, contact the health care professional for advice.

Storage

Different brands of this medication have different storage needs. Check the product package for instructions on how to store your brand, or ask your pharmacist. Protect from light. Keep all medications away from children and pets.

Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.

Important note

HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION: This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.

Information last revised March 2017.

Selected from NATIONAL DRUG DATA FILE (NDDF) data included with permission and copyrighted by First Databank, Inc., 2019. This copyrighted material has been downloaded from a licensed data provider.

The above information is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your health care professional. You should consult your health care professional before taking any drug, changing your diet, or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.