Staying up to date on vaccines and immunizations is critical for people with cirrhosis. Dr. Patel, can you tell us why immunizations are so important for this population?
Yes, I can, Major Spencer. Cirrhosis can impair the immune system's ability to fight viruses, bacteria, and other foreign substances. This means people with cirrhosis are more likely to develop an infection from viruses and bacteria, and any infection they develop is more likely to lead to severe complications, including death. For this reason, it's especially important for people with cirrhosis to receive all recommended vaccines and immunizations.
Vaccinations against hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus are specifically recommended for people with cirrhosis because these viruses attack the liver.
Other vaccinations that are considered critical for individuals with any chronic health condition, such as cirrhosis, include:
- Influenza vaccine to protect against seasonal flu
- Tdap vaccine to protect against whooping cough and tetanus
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine to protect against pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases, and
- Zoster vaccine to protect against shingles
Some people may also need vaccinations against human papillomavirus, measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox. Talk to your provider if you think you may need one or more of these vaccinations.