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Receiving Vaccinations after Transplantation

General Rule

An immunosuppressed liver transplant recipient must never receive an injection of a live virus. Immunosuppressed patients could develop the disease that the vaccine is trying to prevent. Contact your transplant coordinator for more information.

Polio Vaccines

The oral polio (Salk) vaccine contains live virus. The vaccine is usually given to children at 2, 4, and 6 months of age and once again between 4 and 8 years of age. This live virus may be spread from the vaccinated child to other people for up to eight weeks after being given. The polio virus spreads through contact with the child's bowel movements, saliva, tears, and through the air. We recommend that transplant recipients avoid all contact with any children who have received the live oral polio vaccine for eight weeks. Transplant recipients who do not want to avoid contact with a particular child can request that the child receive the inactivated polio virus (Sabin) vaccine that is given by injection. Transplant recipients may wish to involve the child's pediatrician. We suggest that recipients call their transplant coordinator if there is any question about polio immunization.

MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) Vaccine

Another live virus vaccine is the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. The MMR vaccine is given to children, and transplant recipients do not need to avoid persons vaccinated with MMR. It is unlikely that an individual would ever need to receive an MMR injection as an adult.

Flu Shots

Flu shots are inactivated vaccines. Because flu can be very serious, particularly in immunosuppressed patients, our Infectious Disease Service recommends that liver transplant recipients receive flu shots yearly in the fall; liver transplant recipients should wait at least three months after transplantation before getting a flu shot. People who are allergic to eggs or chickens should not get flu shots.

Chicken Pox Vaccine

Varivax is a live virus vaccination for chicken pox; Varivax is given as an injection. Liver transplant patients should not receive this vaccination. Transplant patients may be at risk of acquiring chicken pox by being in contact with someone who has received a Varivax injection.

Tetanus Shots

When a liver transplant recipient gets an animal bite or scratch, a dirty cut, or an injury, such as a puncture from stepping on a nail, he/she should receive a tetanus shot. Tetanus boosters are recommended for everyone every 10 years.

Learn more about Life After Liver Transplantation.

Last Update
November 16, 2010
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Last Update
November 16, 2010
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