Health professionals reminded of Zostavax safety risk

The TGA has received a report of a death occurring in a person with pre-existing compromised immune function after receiving Zostavax

The vaccine for the prevention of herpes zoster has been included on the National Immunisation Program since 1 November 2016 for patients 70 years of age.

A five-year catch-up program for people aged 71-79 years is also underway.

Zostavax contains live attenuated varicella-zoster virus, which has 14 times more virus than childhood varicella vaccines, reminds the TGA.

“Administration of Zostavax can result in disseminated disease from the vaccine virus in individuals who are immunosuppressed or immunodeficient,” it says.

“Health professionals should carefully consider a patient’s immunological status prior to vaccination and not administer Zostavax in immunodeficient or immunosuppressed patients. If unsure, defer vaccination and seek specialist advice.”

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