Immunizations in chronic liver disease: What should be done and what is the evidence

Michael D. Leise, Jayant A. Talwalkar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Infections are common in patients with chronic liver disease, especially those with cirrhosis. Patients with advanced liver disease, who develop bacterial infections, are at a substantially higher risk of death. As liver disease progresses, most immunizations lose their effectiveness. Overall, it is important to address immunization needs in patients with chronic liver disease early on, when immunizations are most effective. Inactivated or killed-type vaccinations rather than live, attenuated vaccinations are always preferable in patients with cirrhosis. The influenza vaccination is less effective in patients with cirrhosis and in the early post-liver transplant setting as compared to healthy individuals. The influenza vaccination may prevent hepatic decompensation, but further data are needed to confirm this. Yearly inactivated influenza vaccinations should be provided to those with chronic liver disease. The pneumonia vaccination is less effective in patients with cirrhosis, with a further decline in protective serologies after liver transplantation. Standard guidelines for the administration of Pneumovax23 for immunocompromised hosts apply to patients with chronic liver disease. Chronic liver disease also leads to higher non-response rates to the hepatitis B vaccination. Early-stage chronic liver disease patients should receive conventional hepatitis B series. Cirrhotics benefit from a double-dose hepatitis B vaccination at standard intervals. Hepatitis A superimposed on chronic viral hepatitis or chronic liver disease increases risk of mortality. Hepatitis A vaccination effectiveness wanes in cirrhosis, and should if possible be given before the development of cirrhosis. More data are needed for routine use of herpes zoster and human papillomavirus in chronic liver disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number300
JournalCurrent gastroenterology reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Chronic liver disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Immunization
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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