More than 97% of people in Australia are seropositive to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) by 30 years of age,16 even if they cannot recall having varicella at a younger age.
Adults who are VZV-seronegative on laboratory testing and have no history of age-appropriate varicella vaccination may receive either:
2 doses of varicella vaccine (this is preferable — see Varicella), or
1 dose of Zostavax (if aged ≥50 years)
In some small studies, high-dose VZV-containing vaccine (comparable to Zostavax) was given to healthy VZV-seronegative adults and previously infected adults. The limited data suggest that Zostavax was well tolerated and immunogenic in seronegative people, but the incidence of self-limited injection site reactions may be slightly higher than in seropositive people.17,18
There are no specific studies of Zostavax safety in VZV-seronegative adults who have mild to moderate immunocompromising conditions. A cautious assessment of risk factors — both underlying disease and medications — is required in these adults.
The Department of Health and Aged Care acknowledges First Nations peoples as the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia, and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures, and to all Elders both past and present.