Essential Vaccines With Chronic Liver Disease
Last updated: February 2022
Editor's Note: Always talk to your doctor or medical professional if you have any vaccine concerns or questions.
More than 50% of people with hepatitis C will develop a chronic infection.1 Chronic infections increase the risk for chronic liver disease and other health complications.1
One way to help to keep your body healthy is to stay up to date on your vaccines.
Which vaccines are recommended if you have chronic liver disease?
Hepatitis A (HepA) and Hepatitis B Vaccines (HepB):
You are at higher risk for developing other liver conditions if you have hepatitis C.2 That means the CDC RECOMMENDS that you get vaccines that protect you from other types of hepatitis, like A and B.
Hepatitis B vaccine can be two to three doses, depending on the brand of vaccine used. The doses are spread over weeks.
The Hepatitis A vaccine is similar. Two-three doses spread over several weeks.
Influenza Vaccine (Flu):
Flu season runs late fall through late spring in the United States. Flu vaccines are recommended every year to lower your risk of getting ill and protect others.
Most flu vaccines are given as an injection, but some can be given as a nasal spray. The nasal spray contains the live flu virus and should be used with caution if you have chronic liver disease.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis Vaccine (Tdap):
This vaccine protects again three types of infections.
Tetanus is a disease of the nervous system that causes your muscles to spasm and tighten.3
Diphtheria is an infection that affects your nose and throat membranes, making it hard to breathe. It can be deadly to children even if they get medical care.4 Pertussis is a virus also known as whooping cough and is a respiratory disease easily passed from one person to the next.5
One dose of the Tdap vaccine is needed if you haven’t had one in the past. After that, you’ll need a booster dose every 10 years.
Varicella or Zoster Vaccine:
The varicella-zoster virus causes a disease known as chickenpox.6 After you recover from chickenpox, the virus stays in your body around your nerve tissue for years.
It can become active again causing a different infection, called shingles.7 Which vaccine you need depends on your age and if you’ve had chickenpox in the past.
If you’re younger than 50, the CDC recommends two doses of the varicella vaccine if you’ve never had chickenpox in the past. If you’re older than 50, two doses of the zoster vaccine are recommended even if you haven’t had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine in the past.
Pneumococcal Vaccine (PPSV23):
The pneumococcal vaccine helps lower your risk for certain lung infections. There are two different types of vaccines: one for adults over age 65 (PPSV23) and one for children (PCV13).8 The CDC recommends getting the PPSV23 vaccine before age 65 if you have a chronic health condition, like liver disease.
If so, you’ll get a second dose at least five years after your first. If you’re diagnosed with chronic liver disease over age 65, you’ll only get one dose of the vaccine.
Talk with your medical team about your other health conditions and which vaccines are right for you.9 You may need other vaccines to help protect you against diseases like COVID10, meningitis, measles, mumps, and rubella.