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Shingles vaccine: Can I transmit the vaccine virus to others?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/shingles-vaccine/AN01806
- With Mayo Clinic internist
James M. Steckelberg, M.D.read biographyclose window
James M. Steckelberg, M.D.James Steckelberg, M.D.
Dr. James Steckelberg is a consultant in the Division of Infectious Diseases and a professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School.
A native of Fremont, Neb., Dr. Steckelberg was a Rhodes Scholar and graduated from the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine as a resident in internal medicine and a fellow in infectious diseases, and is board certified in both. He is the former director of the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory at Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Steckelberg belongs to numerous professional organizations. He is a founding member of the Musculoskeletal Infection Society and a fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He has served on many Mayo Clinic committees and is a member of the Department of Medicine Leadership Committee and of the executive committee of the Division of Infectious Diseases. He also served on the editorial boards of "Mayo Clinic Proceedings" and "Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy" and has been an editorial reviewer for more than a dozen publications.
Dr. Steckelberg's research interests include experimental models of infection, epidemiology of infection, and antimicrobial resistance and therapy of bacterial infections.
Risk factors (1)
- Shingles vaccine: Can I transmit the vaccine virus to others?
Treatments and drugs (1)
- Shingles treatment: Does alcohol use affect therapy?
- Shingles vaccine: Should I get it?
Shingles vaccine: Can I transmit the vaccine virus to others?
After getting the shingles vaccine, my doctor said to stay away from my pregnant daughter and my grandchildren. Can you tell me why?
from James M. Steckelberg, M.D.
The virus that causes shingles — varicella-zoster virus — is also the virus that causes chickenpox. Your doctor's concern about your daughter and grandchildren may stem from reports of rare cases in which people with no immunity to chickenpox — meaning they've never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine — have caught varicella-zoster virus from children recently vaccinated with the chickenpox vaccine.
However, there are no documented cases of the varicella-zoster virus being transmitted from adults vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Varicella-zoster vaccines are recommended for children to prevent chickenpox and for adults age 50 and older to prevent shingles, but the formulations are different, and the vaccines are not interchangeable.
According to the CDC, in normal circumstances it's unnecessary to avoid pregnant women and unvaccinated children after you get the shingles vaccine. However, if you develop a rash after you get the shingles vaccine, always take the precaution of keeping the rash covered until all the bumps crust over.
To develop shingles, you have to catch chickenpox first, which typically happens in childhood. When you get over chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus stays in your body, but remains dormant, often for many years and possibly for life. As you age, though, there's an increasing risk that the virus will reactivate, resulting in shingles.Next question
Shingles treatment: Does alcohol use affect therapy?
- Zostavax (prescribing information). White House Station, N.J.: Merck & Co.; 2011. http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/z/zostavax/zostavax_pi2.pdf. Accessed March 14, 2012.
- Varavax (prescribing information). White House Station, N.J.: Merck & Co., Inc.; 2011. http://www.merck.com/product/usa/pi_circulars/v/varivax/varivax_pi.pdf. Accessed March 14, 2012.
- Sampathkumar P, et al. Herpes zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2009;84:274.
- Herpes zoster vaccination for health care professionals. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/shingles/hcp-vaccination.htm. Accessed March 14, 2012.