• Zoster (Shingles)
  • Immunocompromised Adults

Should an immunocompromised adult who has no history of chickenpox but who received only one dose of live-attenuated varicella vaccine receive Shingrix?

An adult who has documentation of one dose of varicella vaccine is potentially at risk for chickenpox (from exposure to a person with chickenpox) AND herpes zoster (either from a possible previous unrecognized case of chickenpox or from the vaccine strain of the virus).

CDC subject matter experts advise that clinical management of a person with no proof of a past primary varicella infection and a history of only one varicella vaccination who is or will be immunocompromised depends upon the degree of immunocompromise of the patient:

  • If varicella vaccine is not already contraindicated due to significant immunocompromise, give the second varicella vaccine dose. Depending on the patient’s immunocompromising condition or therapy, the clinician may then consider initiating the Shingrix series at least 8 weeks after the second varicella vaccine dose to reduce the risk of herpes zoster.
  • If the patient already has significant immunocompromise and the second varicella vaccine dose is contraindicated, the clinician should:
    • Consider the patient’s herpes zoster risk (based on their immunocompromising condition or therapy). On a case-by-case basis and if the clinician determines it is indicated, administer the Shingrix series to reduce the risk of herpes zoster.
    • Be prepared to administer varicella immune globulin (VariZIG, Saol Therapeutics) in the event that the patient has a recognized exposure to a person with chickenpox, regardless of whether or not the patient received RZV.

For more information, see www.cdc.gov/shingles/vaccination/immunocompromised-adults.html.

Last reviewed: March 9, 2022

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