Vaccinations: A Brief Summary


Elizabeth McBurney, MD, Tulane School of Medicine

Is it safe for individuals with cutaneous lymphoma to get vaccinations?

This is a frequently asked question. While the answer has changed over the years, the following information is based on clinical responses to vaccination-related questions asked during Q&A events.

Are there unsafe vaccinations?

If there's ever a question about the safety of a vaccine, the important thing to ask is if it is a live vaccine. Individuals with cutaneous lymphoma should NOT have live virus vaccinations. Fortunately the majority of vaccines do not contain live virus and so are safe.

The following vaccinations have been found safe for individuals with cutaneous lymphoma:

  • Pneumonia - Pneumovax 23 
  • Shingles - Shingrix
    • Patients may experience a bit of aches and pains following the vaccine but the vaccine itself does not cause shingles.
    • If you have had shingles within the last few years, there is no harm in getting the vaccination and protecting yourself from potentially getting it again.
  • Flu shot  
    • The flu vaccine without the live virus is safe
    • The flu vaccine is very safe unless you're allergic to some parts of the vaccine (some people may be allergic to eggs which are part of the vaccine)
    • The nasal vaccine should be avoided as it does contain some live virus
    • Patients sometimes may have a little bit of aches and pains as an immune reaction to the shot that may last a day or two but it is not a cause for concern.

Update on Vaccinations

Dr. Jasmine Zain shares an update on the COVID-19, RSV and flu vaccinations for individuals with cutaneous lymphoma. (Recorded October 2023)


The content of this article was summarized from questions asked at the following educational events:


  • Brad Haverkos, MD, MPH, MS, University of Colorado, Anschutz Cancer Pavilion
  • Elizabeth McBurney, MD, Tulane School of Medicine


  • Larisa Geskin, MD, Comprehensive Skin Cancer Center, Columbia University Medical Center