Unlike many other myths about vaccines, shedding is a real thing.
It is just much, much less common than it is made out to be.
And it is very rarely something to be concerned about.
There is especially no research to suggest that children who were recently vaccinated, except in rare and very specific circumstances, need to be kept away from others to keep them from getting sick.
And definitely no reason to listen to the advice of one organization who calls for “a two-week quarantine of all children and adults who receive vaccinations.”
So what is shedding?
Shedding occurs when an infectious agent, typically a virus, can be found in urine, stool, and other bodily secretions. Shedding is not specific to vaccines though. Shedding occurs very commonly after natural infections too, which is one reason they are so hard to control.
Shedding is rarely an issue with vaccines though.
In fact, most vaccines are inactivated and don’t shed, including DTaP, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Hib, flu, IPV, HPV, meningococcal, pneumococcal, and Tdap shots.
Also, except for the oral polio vaccine, which is no longer used in the United States, even close contacts of people with immune system problems can get “standard vaccines because viral shedding is unlikely and these pose little risk of infection to a subject with compromised immunity.” The only circumstance where a live vaccine would be restricted because of theoretical concerns over shedding is for FluMist and close contacts of a severely immunocompromised patient who is in a protective environment (like after getting a stem cell transplant).
Other standard, live vaccines that might possibly shed are the chicken pox, MMR, and rotavirus vaccines.
The rotavirus vaccine only sheds in stool though, so routine hygiene techniques during diaper changes can prevent you from getting sick after your child gets this vaccine. We definitely aren’t seeing outbreaks of rotavirus triggered by shedding, so this likely works. Rotavirus infections are down significantly since we started routine vaccinations.
Chicken pox is also down significantly since we started vaccinating. There are no outbreaks because of shedding, which can occur, but only if the vaccinated person first develops a rash. Keep in mind that there are only a handful of reports that this has ever happened and if you did get sick, you would get the attenuated strain of chicken pox, not the more serious wild strain.
And what about the MMR vaccine. Although it is thought that rubella may shed into breastmilk after getting vaccinated, getting measles would be unheard of. Again, cases of measles are way down in the post-vaccine era.
The vaccinated are not spreading measles, chicken pox, or any other vaccine-preventable disease.
For more information:
- “Vaccine Shedding”: Time Up For Another Vaccine Myth
- Vaccine Shedding : Should You Really Be Concerned?
- Live Vaccines and Vaccine Shedding
- The Chickenpox Vaccine and Shedding Concerns
- Ask the Experts about Rotavirus Vaccines
- Rotavirus vaccine shedding poses little risk