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What to Know About Live Vaccines

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Live vaccines are different from most other vaccines because they are more similar to the natural infection. This gives your body a stronger and longer-lasting immune response. The most common live vaccines include MMR, Rotavirus, Smallpox, Chickenpox, and Yellow Fever. Cholera and Typhoid are two additional oral vaccines.

Who Should not Receive Live Vaccines?

People with immune system issues, receiving chemotherapy, or taking steroids should not get a live vaccine. Their immune system is being suppressed and they cannot make antibodies to the disease they were vaccinated against. The vaccine could even cause them harm.


Am I Going to Feel Sick After Getting a Live Vaccine?

There is a higher potential that you may feel some flu-like symptoms after a live vaccine because of the work your body is doing to make antibodies to the disease. Fever, headache, tiredness, and muscle aches are some common side effects that people report. If you are already feeling under the weather, it may be best to wait until your illness has subsided before getting a live vaccine.


I Live With an Immunocompromised Person…

Live vaccines can potentially cause viral shedding in the stool of the recipient. It is not a threat to healthy people, but it can be risky for those with weakened immune systems. For adults that receive live vaccines and live with an immunocompromised individual, it is advised that you wash your hands well after using the restroom.


Do I Need to Space out my Other Vaccinations?

Live vaccines must be separated from each other by 28-30 days. This allows your body time to make antibodies for the one disease before introducing another vaccine. Other vaccines that are not live do not have to be spaced out a particular amount of days. If you were to get a yellow fever shot on a Monday, you could get a tetanus shot that same day, the next day, or whenever you would like.


What Age Can Someone Get Live Vaccines?

Live vaccines are generally not recommended for anyone under one year of age. The yellow fever vaccine has some precautions for use in people over the age of 60 years. Generally anyone in good health over the age of 12 months and under 60 years old can receive a live vaccine. Pregnant women are advised not to get live vaccines due to the theoretical risk to the fetus.


Will my COVID-19 Booster Interact with Live Vaccines?

None of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are live vaccines, so after getting your COVID booster, you can get a live vaccine without causing a decreased immune response to either vaccination. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, the Novavax is a protein subunit vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson is a viral vector vaccine.


If you are looking for routine or travel immunizations, make an appointment at Away Clinic's Chandler or Scottsdale location.


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