Although scientists are working to develop safer vaccines, persons diagnosed with atopic dermatitis (or eczema) should not receive the current smallpox vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a U.S. Government organization, persons who have ever been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, even if the condition is mild or not presently active, are more likely to develop a serious complication if they are exposed to the virus from the smallpox vaccine.
People with atopic dermatitis should exercise caution when coming into close physical contact with a person who has been recently vaccinated, and make certain the vaccinated person has covered the vaccination site or taken other precautions until the scab falls off (about 3 weeks). Those who have had physical contact with a vaccinated person’s unhealed vaccination site or to their bedding or other items that might have touched that site should notify their doctor, particularly if they develop a new or unusual rash.
During a smallpox outbreak, these vaccination recommendations may change. Persons with atopic dermatitis who have been exposed to smallpox should consult their doctor about vaccination.
Tips for Working With Your Doctor
- Provide complete, accurate medical information.
- Make a list of your questions and concerns in advance.
- Be honest and share your point of view with the doctor.
- Ask for clarification or further explanation if you need it.
- Talk to other members of the health care team, such as nurses, therapists, or pharmacists.
- Don’t hesitate to discuss sensitive subjects with your doctor.
- Discuss changes to medical treatment or medications with your doctor.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD