Zostavax Immunisation Leads to Death

08 Mar 2017

by Dr Jane Deacon

It has been reported that an elderly man died in NSW due to fatal, widespread zoster virus infection following vaccination with Zostavax. He should not have been vaccinated due to significant underlying health conditions.

The Zostavax program for 70-79 year old patients was launched in November 2016. The vaccine is contra-indicated in patients who are immunocompromised. Zostavax is a live attenuated vaccine, and administration to patients who are immunocompromised can lead to disseminated disease and death.

If there is doubt about whether Zostavax is safe for a patient, defer vaccination and seek specialist advice. If Zostavax is given to an immunocompromised patient, urgently contact the treating specialist or infectious disease specialist for advice on use of antivirals.

Further information is available:


This blog contains general information only. We recommend you contact your medical defence organisation or insurer when you require specific advice in relation to medico-legal matters. This blog is based on an actual event but details have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.



How to Respond to a Complaint

Even a complaint that may seem trivial is important to the patient. MDA national Medico-legal Adviser and practicing GP, Dr Jane Deacon, discusses how to respond to a complaint.


11 Apr 2019

Top Tips and Medico-legal Mistakes Part 1

MDA National Executive Professional Services Manager and GP, Dr Sara Bird, explains how to be better prepared and avoid common medico-legal mistakes.


11 Apr 2019