Psoriasis and the shingles vaccine

September 27, 2011


Question: I have psoriasis. Can I get the shingles vaccine? If someone I live with is eligible for the vaccine and decides to get it, am I at a higher risk for getting the zoster (shingles) virus?


Answer:

The shingles vaccine is approved for people ages 60 and over to prevent or decrease the likelihood of developing shingles, also known as herpes zoster. This vaccine can be safely given to healthy adults whose immune system is not suppressed because of a disease or because of a treatment.

Most of the systemic treatments for psoriasis—including methotrexate, cyclosporine, and all of the biologics—suppress the immune system. Therefore, if you are being treated with any of these agents, you should not get the shingles vaccine.

If someone else in your house is eligible for the shingles vaccine and decides to get it, you may be at higher risk for getting chickenpox if you have never had chickenpox before. Pregnant women who have never had chickenpox are at the highest risk of contracting chickenpox from a close contact who has received the shingles vaccine.

Neil J. Korman, M.D., Ph.D.

Neil J. Korman, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Dermatology, Clinical Director
Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis
Case Western Reserve University
University Hospitals of Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio


Comments

  • I also have psoriasis arthritis and I feel the question was not clearly answered, about having psoriasis and getting the shingles vaccine. I ‘am not any cyclosporine or biologics just using Vaseline by my own choice

  • Hi Donna, thank you for your comment. I encourage you to talk further about the shingles vaccine with your health care provider. As Dr. Korman discusses above, because you are not taking systemic therapy for psoriasis, receiving the shingles vaccine does not necessarily pose additional risk to your health. The vaccine may be appropriate for you, and with knowledge of your health and background, your health care provider will assist you in making the treatment determination that’s right for you.

  • In patients with active psoriasis, is there a danger of the rash that sometimes developes at injection site to spread over entire body? My PCP didn’t want to give it because of this fear.
    based most likely on the warning not to vaccinate psoriasis patient against small pox for this reason.
    I had Chickenpox as child, and positive titre as adult.

    I would like to get the Shingle Vaccine, and need definitive answer.

    thanks
    Karen

  • Hi Karen: injections of any kind may trigger a flare-up of psoriasis symptoms as the result of a response known as the Koebner Phenomenon. This phenomenon is responsible for either triggering the original onset of psoriasis symptoms, or the development or worsening of psoriasis symptoms at the injection (or injury) site. You can read more about the Koebner Phenomenon here: http://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/causes/koebner. However, many people with psoriasis are able to receive injections and immunizations with no problem or changes in their psoriasis symptoms. Always talk with your dermatologist before getting an immunization or vaccine.

  • My question is still not answered. My dermotologist would like me to start cyclosporines for LPP, my primary care would like me to take the shingles vaccination. How long after the shingles vaccination can I begin the cyclosporin or should I not use them at all. Also, I have a baby granddaughter, how long after receiving the vaccination can I come in contact with her, with no danger to her.

    Thank you.

  • Hi Nancy: generally speaking, it is not advisable to take an immunosuppressant treatment like cyclosporine after receiving the shingles vaccine, because the vaccine may not work as well as it should. Do be sure to chat with your health care team about your individual health needs and history.
    In most cases, it is not necessary to avoid contact with children who have not received the vaccine. You can contact the Center for Disease Control for more information about the shingles vaccine: http://www.cdc.gov/.

  • Both my regular doctor and my dermatologist said I should not get the shingles vaccine. I have psoriasis and only use creams. I also have fungal infections and hypothyroid. Should I get the shingles vaccine?

  • I have psoriasis and my family dr. ok’d me for a shingles shot. I had the vaccine and 2 months later Im covered with painful splotches all over my body. I went to my old dermatologist and he turn me over to a practitioner,who evaded the issue of the shingles shot. she prescribed varius ointments. I need questions for my answers,Im in alotta pain,thx.

  • Hi Patricia: because they are aware of your specific health history, your health care providers would be the best source of information for you. If you have any questions about the reasoning behind their recommendations, be sure to ask!

  • I have plaque psorasis on my hands and I use Clobetasol Propionate ointment on it as well as the cream. Can I have the shingles shot? Should I ask my Dermatologist and see what he says?

  • Hi Ruth: if you are not using an suppressant treatment, then the shingles vaccine should be just fine for you. But to be sure to talk it over first with your entire health care team, including your dermatologist.

  • Hi Dennis: sorry to hear you had such a frustrating experience with your dermatologist. It’s very important to work with a qualified health care practitioner to understand your particular symptoms. If you need, you can use our health care provider directory to locate a dermatology professional in your area: https://www.psoriasis.org/health-care-providers/physicians-directory.

  • Ihave psorasis, taking 7.5mg or10mg weekly metrotrexate, had chicken pox, is it safe to take the shingles vac. Thanks

  • Hi Gail: if you are taking methotrexate (which is an immunosuppressive treatment), it’s advisable to discuss with your health care provider before receiving the shingles vaccine.


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