It’s important for parents to know that a child with SCID should not receive any vaccines. Some vaccines introduce a live virus into a person. A child with a normal immune system fights off the live vaccine virus and builds an immunity to it. A child with SCID doesn’t have a working immune system and can become seriously ill from the live virus in the vaccine.
A vaccine that is particularly dangerous for a child with SCID is the live rotavirus vaccine. The rotavirus vaccine is usually given to a child at around two months of age. In a person without SCID, the rotavirus vaccine protects against the rotavirus which causes vomiting, severe diarrhea, and dehydration. In the person with SCID, the rotavirus vaccine can cause the very symptoms it is designed to prevent – vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Those symptoms can be long and severe in a child with SCID.
Babies with SCID should not receive rotavirus, chicken pox, mumps, rubella, measles, live virus polio, live nasal flu vaccine, or BCG vaccinations.
Siblings of a child with SCID should not receive the rotavirus vaccine or any live attenuated virus vaccine, such as the chicken pox and the live nasal flu vaccine before the child is treated as this could potentially expose a baby with SCID to these diseases. Siblings can, however, receive killed viruses, such as pertussis and the flu, and families are encouraged to stay up-to-date on their vaccines, particularly their annual influenza vaccines.