Certain people should not get vaccinated or should hold off before receiving a vaccine. Individuals with a compromised immune system are typically advised to wait, while people who experienced allergic reactions from a past dose are advised not to receive a follow-up dose.

The CDC advises certain individuals not to get specific vaccines, providing guidelines for each. Below are some of the more common vaccines and the corresponding guidelines about who should not get the vaccine.

Influenza (Flu) Vaccine

Anyone who meets the following criteria should not get vaccinated:

  • allergy to chicken eggs
  • past reaction to the flu vaccine
  • infants less than 6 months old
  • anyone who is currently moderately-to-severely ill is advised to wait until a full recovery before getting vaccinated
  • an individual who developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of receiving the flu shot

HepA

Hepatitis A, a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV), is spread through close contact and can be spread by eating or drinking HAV-contaminated food or water. While the CDC recommends some people to receive routine HepA vaccinations and also advises the vaccine for individuals traveling to high-risk areas (including Mexico, Central and South America, Africa, parts of Asia, and eastern Europe), there are certain people who should not get this vaccine. Risk factors include:

  • past severe reaction to HepA vaccine
  • severe allergy to component(s) of the HepA vaccine (this vaccine contains the chemical alum, and some HepA vaccines have 2-phenoxyethanol)
  • anyone who is moderately to severely ill is advised to wait until a full recovery before getting vaccinated
  • pregnant women, though considered at a low risk, are advised to consult with their doctor to determine if this vaccine is safe

HepB

Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and can be spread from infected blood or body fluids. While children, adolescents, and at-risk adults are encouraged to get the vaccine, certain individuals should not receive the HepB vaccine. Risk factors include:

  • severe allergy to baker’s yeast or to other components of the vaccine
  • past severe reaction to HepB vaccine
  • anyone who is currently moderately-to-severely ill is advised to wait until a full recovery before getting vaccinated

HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

While most HPV infections go away without the need for treatment, the HPV vaccine is important to help prevent cervical cancer in women, which can be caused from HPV. The vaccine also protects against other cancers (vaginal and vulvar in females) and anal cancer and genital warts (in both men and women).

The CDC advises the following people not to get vaccinated with the HPV vaccine:

  • those who experienced severe allergy to the HPV vaccine in the past
  • pregnant women (however, breast-feeding women may get the vaccine)
  • anyone who is moderately to severely ill is advised to wait until a full recovery before getting vaccinated 

Tdap

The Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) and Td (tetanus, diphtheria) vaccines protect against the bacteria that cause these diseases. According to the CDC, the introduction of vaccines has led to the decrease of tetanus cases by more than 96 percent and diphtheria by more than 99 percent. Routine vaccines are recommended for children, adolescents, and adults; however there are certain people who should not get these vaccines, including:

  • people who had severe allergic reaction to past doses of DTP, DTaP, DT, or Td
  • people who had severe allergic reaction to any component of a vaccine
  • people who had a coma or seizures within 7 days after receiving the DTP or DTaP vaccines
  • anyone who is moderately to severely ill is advised to wait until a full recovery before getting vaccinated 

In addition to the above list, there are additional factors that may affect a person’s risk for receiving the Tdap vaccine. Other concerns to discuss with your doctor before getting the Tdap include:

  • having epilepsy
  • experiencing severe swelling from past doses of DTP, DTaP, DT, Td, or Tdap
  • having Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS)

Requirements vary for each vaccine; visit the CDC for in-depth information regarding the types of vaccines and who should not get vaccinated.

Shingles

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is more common in people over 50, and also in individuals who have a weakened immune system. Cancer or cancer treatment, such as certain high-dose steroids and chemotherapy, can compromise the immune system, making some people more vulnerable to developing shingles. The disease is caused by the same virus as the chickenpox, Varicella Zoster, and not by the virus that causes genital herpes.

Only if you had the chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine can you develop shingles later in life, because the virus stays dormant in your body. Adults over age 60 are recommended to get one dose of the shingles vaccine for protection; however certain people should not receive this vaccine if they meet any of the following criteria, including:

  • past severe allergic reaction to gelatin, neomycin, or other components of this vaccine
  • weakened immune system due to AIDS, drug treatments (such as high-dose steroids), cancer treatment, or cancer of the bone or lymphatic system
  • pregnant women or women who think they may be pregnant
  • anyone who is moderately to severely ill is advised to wait until a full recovery before getting vaccinated

Meningococcal

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial illness that can affect all ages, though it is more common in infants less than a year old, individuals with certain medical conditions, and college freshmen who live in dorms. The CDC states that “college freshmen who live in dormitories and teenagers 15-19 have an increased risk of getting meningococcal disease.” The vaccine is offered in two versions in the United States: MCV4 (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and MPSV4 (meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine). The “4” represents the four types of meningococcal disease which the vaccines help to fight. MCV4 is recommended for children and adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18, as well as for high-risk individuals, such as college freshmen who plan to live in dorms, U.S. military recruits, or anyone traveling to high-risk countries. However, certain individuals should not receive the meningococcal vaccine, including:

  • anyone who is moderately to severely ill should wait until a full recovery before getting vaccinated
  • anyone who experienced a severe allergic reaction to the meningococcal vaccine in the past
  • anyone who experienced a severe allergic reaction to any vaccine component
  • anyone who had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)

While meningococcal vaccines can be administered to pregnant women, the MCV4 vaccine has not been studied in pregnant women; women who are pregnant should consult with their doctor.