Live, attenuated varicella zoster vaccination of an immunocompromised patient

Kelly K. Curtis, Megan K. Connolly, Donald W. Northfelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


A vaccine for the prevention of herpes zoster outbreaks in adults over the age of 60 years has recently been approved. A 76-year-old white female with a history of recurrent left axillary breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy was given a Zostavax® injection by her primary care physician. Eight days later, the patient developed a rash. Given the recent administration of live, attenuated varicella zoster virus (VZV), a diagnosis of disseminated cutaneous herpes zoster was made. The patient was treated successfully with a course of famciclovir for 10 days and cephalexin for 7 days for a secondary bacterial infection. A review of the medical literature disclosed no reports of Zostavax® given to adult cancer patients immunocompromised by systemic chemotherapy. Therefore, we believe this report is the first to describe the consequences of Zostavax® administration to such a host. Clinicians should take care to review contraindications and precautions prior to administering the Zostavax® vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-649
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008


  • Adverse reactions
  • Immunocompromised patient
  • Varicella zoster vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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