ZOSTAVAX is a live attenuated virus vaccine indicated for prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in individuals 50 years of age and older. ZOSTAVAX is not indicated for the treatment of zoster or postherpetic neuralgia. ZOSTAVAX should not be used for prevention of primary varicella infection (Chickenpox).

How to Prepare and Handle a Frozen Vaccine Before Administration


Learn about the proper procedure for preparing and handling frozen vaccines, like ZOSTAVAX, including:

  • Items required before preparation
  • How frozen vaccines, like ZOSTAVAX, should be stored
  • Safety and quality control

Video Transcript | How to Prepare and Handle a Frozen Vaccine Before Administration

Voice-Over:

This short video will demonstrate the proper procedure for handling and preparing frozen vaccines for reconstitution.

Before reconstitution, there are a couple of things you must do to properly prepare. Refer to the appropriate vaccine prescribing information for specific instructions regarding preparation and administration.

Make sure you have the following items ready before you begin:

  • 1 sterile syringe
  • 1 or 2 sterile needles
  • diluent supplied with the vaccine by Merck
  • unopened prepackaged sterile alcohol wipes

The first thing you must do is thoroughly wash your hands. You may use soap and water, or an alcohol-based waterless hand rub.

Frozen vaccines should be stored in a separate stand-alone freezer and monitored using a digital thermometer, as recommended by the CDC. Before removal, ensure the storage unit’s temperature is within the proper range.

Refer to the appropriate vaccine prescribing information, which explains how the vaccine should be stored.

The diluent used to reconstitute frozen vaccines should either be stored separately at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Please refer to appropriate vaccine prescribing information.

Each vaccine and diluent vial should be inspected for damage or contamination before use. Check each seal to ensure it’s intact.

Next, check the vaccine lot and expiration date. You can use vaccines through the last day of the month indicated by the expiration date or as specified by package labeling. If you suspect a problem with the vaccine or diluent and if the temperature of the storage unit is too high or too low, call the Merck National Service Center for more information.

You are now prepared to reconstitute and administer frozen vaccines. Watch the Reconstitution and Administration video for next steps.

Indication for ZOSTAVAX

ZOSTAVAX® (Zoster Vaccine Live) is a live attenuated virus vaccine indicated for prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in individuals 50 years of age and older. ZOSTAVAX is not indicated for the treatment of zoster or postherpetic neuralgia. ZOSTAVAX should not be used for prevention of primary varicella infection (Chickenpox).

Vaccination with ZOSTAVAX® (Zoster Vaccine Live) does not result in protection of all vaccine recipients.
Do not administer ZOSTAVAX to individuals who are immunodeficient or immunosuppressed due to disease or therapy, as serious or fatal disseminated vaccine strain varicella-zoster virus disease may occur. Causes of immunodeficiency or immunosuppression may include, but are not limited to, primary or acquired immunodeficiency states, AIDS or other clinical manifestations of infection with human immunodeficiency viruses, leukemia, lymphoma or other malignant neoplasms affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, and immunosuppressive therapy.

Vaccination with ZOSTAVAX® (Zoster Vaccine Live) does not result in protection of all vaccine recipients.

Do not administer ZOSTAVAX to individuals who are immunodeficient or immunosuppressed due to disease or therapy, as serious or fatal disseminated vaccine strain varicella-zoster virus disease may occur. Causes of immunodeficiency or immunosuppression may include, but are not limited to, primary or acquired immunodeficiency states, AIDS or other clinical manifestations of infection with human immunodeficiency viruses, leukemia, lymphoma or other malignant neoplasms affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, and immunosuppressive therapy.

A reduced immune response to ZOSTAVAX was observed in individuals who received concurrent administration of PNEUMOVAX®23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent) and ZOSTAVAX compared with individuals who received these vaccines 4 weeks apart. Consider administration of the two vaccines separated by at least 4 weeks.

Serious vaccine-related adverse reactions that have occurred following vaccination with ZOSTAVAX include asthma exacerbation and polymyalgia rheumatica. Other serious adverse events reported following vaccination with ZOSTAVAX include cardiovascular events (congestive heart failure, pulmonary edema). Common adverse reactions occurring in ≥1% of vaccinated individuals during clinical trials include injection-site reactions (erythema, pain/tenderness, swelling, hematoma, pruritus, warmth) and headache.

Transmission of vaccine virus may occur between vaccinees and susceptible contacts.

Deferral should be considered in acute illness (for example, in the presence of fever) or in patients with active untreated tuberculosis.

Before administering ZOSTAVAX, please read the accompanying Prescribing Information. The Patient Information also is available.

ZOSTAVAX® (Zoster Vaccine Live) is a live attenuated virus vaccine indicated for prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) in individuals 50 years of age and older. ZOSTAVAX is not indicated for the treatment of zoster or postherpetic neuralgia. ZOSTAVAX should not be used for prevention of primary varicella infection (Chickenpox).

US-CIN-00011 12/19