Who Should NOT be Vaccinated?

Who Should Not Receive the Smallpox Vaccine? (unless exposed to the virus)

  • Expectant Mothers
  • People with Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis or an autoimmune disorder
  • People being treated for cancer
  • People who are HIV-positive
  • People who have had an organ transplant
  • People who have heart conditions or risk factors for coronary heart disease
  • People who have been directly exposed to the smallpox virus should get the vaccine, regardless of their health status

Some people are at greater risk for serious side effects from the smallpox vaccine. Individuals who have any of the following conditions, or live with someone who does, should NOT get the smallpox vaccine unless they have been exposed to the smallpox virus.

In addition, individuals should not get the smallpox vaccine if they:

  • Are allergic to the vaccine or any of its ingredients.
  • Are less than 18 years of age.
  • Have a moderate or severe short-term illness. (These people should wait until they are completely recovered to get the vaccine.)
  • Are currently breastfeeding.

What are the higher risk conditions?

  • Eczema or atopic dermatitis. (This is true even if the condition is mild or was experienced as a child, and is not currently active.)
  • Skin conditions such as burns, chickenpox, shingles, impetigo, herpes, severe acne, or psoriasis. (People with any of these conditions should not get the vaccine until they have completely healed.)
  • Weakened immune system. (Cancer treatment, an organ transplant, HIV, or medications to treat autoimmune disorders and other illnesses can weaken the immune system.)
  • Pregnancy or plans to become pregnant within one month of vaccination.
  • History of heart disease; high blood pressure; high blood cholesterol; diabetes or high blood sugar, having a close relative (mother, father, brother, or sister) who had a heart condition before the age of 50; and, are a current smoker.

If offered the smallpox vaccine, individuals should tell their immunization provider if they have any of the above conditions, or even if they suspect they might.