Since the time vaccines have been invented, they are being used widely for providing protection against serious infectious diseases. Vaccines provide us protection from infancy right into our old age as well. While worldwide doctors always recommend people to get vaccinated, there are certain individuals who are advised not to get certain vaccines. There could be many reasons for this. It could be either age-related, some specific underlying health issues, or many other factors. Even individuals who have a compromised immune system are advised to either restrain from getting vaccinated or to wait for a certain period of time before getting certain vaccines. Allergic reactions to a particular vaccine could also be a potential reason for not getting vaccinated further. Here, we look at who should avoid vaccines and the reasons why they should avoid.
Who Should Avoid Vaccines & Why?
Governments world over generally have certain mandatory and some recommended vaccinations for people of all ages. These vaccines are designed to help protect you against dangerous diseases that, in the past, have been known to sicken or even kill many people. However, while there are guidelines and recommendations for vaccinations, there are some vaccines that may not be right for everyone. Certain people should not be getting specific vaccines, or they may need to wait for some time period before they get vaccinated.
The reason why some people have to avoid getting vaccinated or wait before getting vaccinated is that different vaccines are known to contain different types of components, and each individual vaccine can affect people in different ways.
Factors such as your age, your overall health conditions, and many other factors all come together to determine which vaccines you should get and which vaccines you need to avoid. On the other hand, people who are generally deemed to be at a higher risk for certain diseases may actually need additional vaccines.
In case you have a compromised immune system, then your doctor may suggest that you wait for some time before getting certain vaccines. Similarly, people who have an allergic reaction to a particular vaccine, are typically advised to avoid any follow-up or booster doses of that particular vaccine.
Let us take a look at some of the common vaccines and who should avoid them and for what reasons.
Flu or Influenza Vaccine
The flu vaccine is typically recommended once every year, just before the start of the flu season, for both adults and children. However, there are certain conditions in which you should not get vaccinated for the flu. These include:
- If you have had a previous life-threatening or severe reaction to the influenza vaccine
- If you are currently severely or even moderately ill
- If you are an infant younger than 6 months old
- If you have a history of Guillan-Barre Syndrome (GBS), then you must discuss the potential risks of the flu vaccine with your doctor before you go ahead and get vaccinated.
In some cases, there are many people who are unable to receive the live influenza vaccine, LAIV, through the nasal spray. In this case, you must discuss with your doctor if any of the following conditions apply to you or your child:
- If you are pregnant
- If you are breastfeeding
- If your child is under the age of 2 years
- If your child has a history of wheezing or asthma
- If you suffer from a chronic disease such as asthma, liver disease, or heart disease
- If you suffer from certain nerve or muscle diseases that can lead to breathing trouble
- If you have a compromised immune system
- If you are living with or working with people who have compromised the immune system
- If a child or even an adolescent is one a long-term treatment with aspirin
Another factor to consider is egg allergies. In the past, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US used to recommend that if you have an egg allergy, you cannot receive the flu vaccine. However, the CDC now recommends that it is perfectly safe for people who have an egg allergy to receive the flu vaccine. However, if you are prone to having a severe reaction from eggs such as trouble breathing or swelling, then it is recommended that you get the flu vaccine under the supervision of a doctor or in a hospital where your symptoms can be managed.
Hepatitis A Vaccine
Hepatitis A, also known as the HepA virus, is known to cause liver diseases. The virus spreads commonly through food or water that has been infected with human feces. It can also spread through close contact with a person suffering from hepatitis A. The HepA vaccination is recommended for all children and even adults who were not vaccinated during their childhood. There are also recommendations in place for receiving this vaccine if you are traveling to high-risk areas such as:
- Certain parts of Asia
- Central and South America
- Eastern Europe
Similar to the flu vaccine, there are also certain people who should avoid getting the HepA vaccine. The risk factors for this group of people include:
- Having a past severe allergic reaction to the HepA vaccine
- Being severely allergic to one or more components of the HepA vaccine, such as neomycin or aluminum
If you are currently severely or moderately unwell, your doctor will advise you to wait to get better before getting vaccinated. However, if it’s just a mild cold, then there is no need to delay the HepA vaccination. Pregnant women are also advised to wait after their delivery to get the vaccine. However, if you are pregnant and are considered to be at a high risk for the virus, then doctors may still go ahead and give you the vaccine as HepA vaccination is known to have a low risk to the fetus.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
The Hepatitis B (HepB) virus is also known to cause liver disease. This virus is known to transfer from a mother to the unborn child and it generally spreads from infected body fluids or blood. People who are suffering from hepatitis B virus are also at a high risk of getting liver cancer and end-stage liver disease known as cirrhosis. This is why routine hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all.
People who should be avoiding the HepB vaccine include:
- If you have had a past severe allergic reaction to the HepB vaccine
- If you have a severe allergy to any of the components of the vaccine
- If you are a mild or severe illness at the time of vaccination
DTaP or TDaP Vaccine (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis)
The TDaP or DTaP vaccine is known to provide protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. There is also only the Td vaccine that provides protection against tetanus and diphtheria. This is one of the several mandatory vaccines around the world and widespread use of this vaccine has drastically reduced the threat and consequences of these diseases.
People should avoid this set of vaccines include:
- If you have had a severe allergic reaction to previous doses of DTaP, DTP, DT, or Td (these are all the various forms of vaccines available worldwide for prevention against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
- If you are severely or moderately ill at the time of vaccination
- If you have experienced seizures or even a coma within a week of receiving any version of this vaccine
- If you have experienced a nervous system disease or a brain disease within a week of receiving any version of this vaccine
- If you are severely allergic to any of the vaccine’s components such as aluminum
- If your child has cried non-stop for 3 hours or longer after getting a dose of this vaccine
- If you have had a fever crossing 105oF after getting a dose of the TDaP/DTaP vaccine
Some other factors that you should bring to your doctor’s attention before getting this vaccine include:
- If you have epilepsy
- If you have had or are having the Guillain-Barre syndrome
- If you have experienced swelling or severe pain from past doses of this vaccine
As the requirements for the various forms of this vaccine vary, you may still be able to get vaccinated with one of the options of TDaP vaccine.
HPV – Human Papillomavirus Vaccine
Vaccinating against this virus can prevent cervical cancer in women. Since HPV infections generally tend to get better without any treatment, many people often tend to ignore getting vaccinated for HPV. However, if women get vaccinated before becoming sexually active, this vaccine is known to prevent cervical cancer, as well as other HPV-related diseases in both women and men, such as:
People who should be avoiding the HPV vaccine include:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- People who are suffering from a moderate or severe illness
- If you have known severe allergies to HPV vaccine components or to previous doses of the vaccine
Also sometimes referred to as the chicken pox vaccine, getting the shingles vaccine is still mandatory in many countries. Shingles are caused when the chickenpox virus (also known as the varicella-zoster virus) gets reactivated. The virus is a member of the herpes family of viruses, though it is not the same type of virus that causes genital herpes or cold sores. Shingles are generally more common in people who are over the age of 50 years or in people who have a weakened or compromised immune system.
People over 50 years of age are typically advised to receive 2 doses of the shingles vaccine.
People who should avoid the shingles vaccine include:
- You have known severe allergies to one or more of the vaccine components
- If you have a weakened immune system (you should consult your doctor before making any decision)
- If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or you suspect that you may be pregnant
- If you are severely or moderately ill at the time of vaccination
- If you have a fever of 101.5oF or higher
If you are unsure whether you have a weakened or compromised immune system, then you should know that there are certain groups of people who fall in this risk category. These include:
- People having lymphatic or bone cancers
- People currently undergoing cancer treatment
- People having AIDS
- Those who are taking drugs such as high-dose steroids
- For these high-risk groups, the shingles vaccine is best avoided.
Meningococcal disease can affect people of all ages as it is a commonly occurring bacterial infection. It is most commonly found in:
- Individuals who do not have a spleen
- Individuals infected with HIV
- Individuals who suffer from certain genetic immune deficiencies
- College students who are living in dormitories
- Infants, young adults, or teenagers
Meningococcal vaccination is advised during the young adulthood period and there are two types of vaccines generally available – MCV4, which is the latest meningococcal conjugate vaccine, and MPSV4, which is the older meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine. The MPSV4, the older version of the vaccine, is generally preferred for pregnant women as the effects of the MCV4 vaccine on pregnant women is still undergoing research.
People who should not be getting this vaccine include:
- If you are having any severe or moderate illness at the time of vaccination
- If you have a history of life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to the meningococcal vaccine
- If you are allergic to any of the vaccine components
If you have a child who suffers from sickle cell disease, then the meningococcal vaccine needs to be administered separately and at a different time from other vaccines due at the same time as if administered together with other vaccines, it may cause damage to their spleens.
MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) Vaccine
Again one of the mandatory vaccines in many parts of the world, the MMR vaccine provides protection against measles, mumps and rubella diseases. People who should not get the MMR vaccine include:
- Those suffering from any severe or life-threatening allergies
- If you are allergic to any of the vaccine components
- If you are pregnant or suspect that you might be pregnant
- If you have a weakened immune system due to AIDS or because of certain medical treatments such as immunotherapy, steroids, radiation, or chemotherapy
- If you have a family history of immune system problems
- If you have ever had or currently are suffering from a condition that makes you bleed easily or bruise easily
- If you have recently had a blood transfusion or received blood. In this case, it is recommended that you delay the MMR vaccine by 3 or more months
- If you have tuberculosis
- If you have had any live vaccine in the past 4 weeks as live vaccines are not given too close together
- If you are not feeling well – though a mild cold is no reason to avoid a vaccination
There is no doubt that vaccination is an extremely important part of your life and there are many research studies available that clearly show the positive impact vaccines have on your health and in keeping you safe from dangerous and life-threatening diseases. While for most people vaccines are considered to be safe and generally do not cause any side effects, there are certain people who need to avoid or delay getting certain vaccines for many reasons. If you are unsure about whether you or your child should be getting a particular vaccine, then consulting your doctor would be the best way to go about. Your doctor, after getting your entire health history, will be able to inform you about all the pros and cons of any vaccine, and also help you decide what the best option for you is.
- Different Vaccines for Children & the Diseases it Prevents
- Benefits and Risks of Vaccines
- Pneumococcal Vaccines for Adults: How Does it Work, Who Should Get Vaccinated & When
- What Vaccines Do You Need For International Travels?