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Varilrix (live-attenuated varicella vaccine)

Varilrix is used for protection against infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This vaccine is a live-attenuated vaccine and works by introducing a weak form of the virus that the body’s immune system will produce antibodies against the virus and prevent infection.

varilrix

Uses

What is Varilrix used for?

This vaccine prevents varicella infection or chickenpox.

Chickenpox is an infection that is easily spread from one person to another. Chickenpox is usually a mild infection but sometimes it can cause serious problems, such as pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and a rare disease called Reye’s syndrome (when a child takes aspirin while infected).

The varicella virus vaccine is also used for the prevention of herpes zoster (commonly known as shingles) in people 50 years of age and older.

How should I take Varilrix?

This vaccine is administered only by or under the supervision of your doctor or other licensed healthcare professional.

How do I store Varilrix?

Varilrix is best stored in the refrigerator. To prevent drug damage, you should not store it in the bathroom or the freezer.

There may be different brands of this drug that may have different storage needs. So, it is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush this product down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Additionally, it is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using Varilrix?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if you are/have:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Taking any other medicines. This includes any prescription, OTC, and herbal remedies.
  • An allergy to any of the ingredients of this product.
  • Any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

Pregnancy

Pregnant women should not receive live vaccines and pregnancy should be avoided for one month after receiving a live vaccine. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before getting vaccinated.

Varilrix is a pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Breastfeeding

Studies in women suggest that this vaccine poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.

Side effects

What side effects can occur from Varilrix?

Like all drugs, Varilrix may have side effects. If they occur, side effects are generally mild and resolve once treatment is finished or the dose is lowered. Some reported side effects include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Pain, redness, or soreness where vaccine was injected

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Black, tarry stools
  • Blood in the urine or stools
  • Confusion
  • Fever over 39°C orally
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • Rash similar to chickenpox
  • Severe or continuing headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Swelling of the glands
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Vomiting

Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • Blistering or peeling skin
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Signs of a serious allergic reaction:
    • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
    • Hives
    • Itching, especially of the feet or hands
    • Reddening of the skin, especially around the ears
    • Swelling of the eyes, face, or inside of the nose
    • Unusual tiredness or weakness (sudden and severe)

However, not everyone experiences these side effects. In addition, some people may experience other side effects. So, if you have any concerns about a side effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with Varilrix?

This medication may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects.

To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist.

Drugs with known interactions:

  • Antineoplastic or chemotherapy medications (e.g. methotrexate)
  • Corticosteroids (e.g. dexamethasone, prednisone)
  • Dimethyl fumarate
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Other live vaccines (e.g. MMR, influenza)
  • Salicylates (e.g. aspirin, methyl salicylate)
  • Varicella zoster immune globulin

Does food or alcohol interact with Varilrix?

This drug may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with Varilrix?

This drug may interact with underlying conditions. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. Therefore, it is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. Therefore, you should always consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using any medication.

What is the dose for an adult?

Adults and adolescents 13 years of age receive a dose of 0.5 ml followed by a second 0.5 ml dose a minimum of 6 weeks later.

What is the dose for a child?

Children 12 months to 12 years of age receive a single dose of 0.5 ml. Some people require a booster shot. Your doctor will decide if this is necessary.

How is Varilrix available?

Varilrix is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Varilrix vaccine 1 dose (vial + diluent 0.5 ml/amp)

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

Overdose is not likely to occur with vaccines. In case of severe adverse effects, contact your doctor or go to the nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you are late for your scheduled dose(s), get them as soon as you are able to. Do not get a double dose of this vaccine or combination vaccines that offers the same coverage.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Jun 13
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