Shingles Vaccination

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How long after finishing chemo can I have my shingles vaccination? I have asked the hospital MacM nurse and she said she would have to get back to me but she hasn’t.

  • Good afternoon ,

    Thanks for getting in touch and welcome to our online community. My name’s Karla, I’m one of the cancer information nurses on the Macmillan support line.

    It’s frustrating your Macmillan nurse hasn’t come back to you with an answer about your shingles vaccine.

    The general guidance is that adults from the age of 65 are offered the shingles vaccine Zostavax. However, if someone is having or has had chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy in the last 6 months, they should have the inactivated vaccine Shingrix.

    The Green Book which acts as a guide to the UKs vaccination schedule for health professionals and health departments doesn’t mention chemotherapy treatment as a reason not to have the Shingrix vaccine (see page 9 under ‘contraindications’). 

    Shingrix can be given because it’s not a live vaccine. You shouldn’t have immunisations with live vaccines while having cancer treatment and for a few months afterwards. This is because live vaccines contain a weak version of the illness, they are vaccinating you against and could make you unwell.

    Only your consultant can advise about the best time for you to have it. This is usually when your blood counts are within normal range (e.g. white blood cells/neutrophils, red blood cells, platelets etc).

    We’d recommend getting in touch with your consultant via their secretary or calling your Macmillan nurse to share this information and confirm when you can have your vaccine.

    I hope this information helps to guide you. Don’t hesitate to get back in touch if you need anything.

    Best wishes,

    Karla, Cancer Information nurse specialist.


    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email

    Ref: KS/GM