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Arthritis and Rheumatism

Is it safe - shingles inoculation

08/16/2007

Question:

Is it safe for me to be inoculated against shingles? I`ve read that one out of two people over 85 will have shingles. I am 83 years old & had chickenpox as a child. I am taking 3 mg. of Prednisone daily & 7 tablets of Methotrexate 2.5 mg. weekly. I know that these meds lower my immune system, but neither my primary care doctor nor my rheumatologist can give me an answer.

Answer:

The vaccine for shingles is a live vaccine, meaning that there is a risk that the person inoculated may have a reaction to the vaccine, perhaps exhibit symptoms of the disease. However, in a person who has a suppressed immune system, such as yourself, the risk of this sort of reaction is very high. For a definitive answer to your question, I would suggest that you consult with an infectious diseases specialist.

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Response by:

Irving  Kushner, MD Irving Kushner, MD
Professor Emeritus of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University