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Please note that this general advice on the shingles vaccine has been obtained from one of the Association’s medical advisors, but it does not replace any advice given to you by your consultant or GP who knows you and your ITP.
The shingles vaccine is available through the NHS to patients whose birthday must fall within specific dates. It is not licensed for people under 50. (It is available privately from about £150 upwards.) The vaccine will reduce (but not completely prevent) the risk of developing shingles, or recurrent shingles in those who have previously had an episode.
The vaccine itself is a weakened form of the zoster virus that causes chicken pox or shingles. Itself it will not cause either of these infections although may cause some blistering at the site of the injection. It cannot be given to patients who are in any way immune suppressed and is contraindicated for patients on steroids, and any other form of immunosuppressant chemotherapy. It would be fine for someone who has had a splenectomy in the past provided they are off all other treatment.
The vaccine itself is very unlikely to cause thrombocytopenia, and the ITP Support Association is not aware of anyone in whom this has happened. In the very rare case, were it to occur, it would be transient as with other vaccines.
We are grateful to Professor Adrian Newland for his assistance on this page.