Arthritis

Updated 14 December 2015

Arthritis Drug Lowers Flu Shot Effectiveness

But patients should still get vaccinated, researchers say

0

This article has not necessarily been edited by Health24.

MONDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- New research offers a caution to rheumatoid arthritis patients who take the drug rituximab (Rituxan): The flu vaccine is safe, but it's ineffective during the first six months following treatment with Rituxan.

The researchers also found that previous flu vaccination does help provide some protection against the flu, and the vaccine won't make the arthritis symptoms worse.

The study findings are published in the January issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused when the immune system attacks the body, affects about 4.6 million people around the world. Doctors recommend that these patients get vaccinated against influenza each year -- including the H1N1 swine flu this year -- because they have weakened immune systems.

The new study, by Dr. Sander van Assen and colleagues at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, included rheumatoid arthritis patients who took rituximab or methotrexate, as well as a group of healthy people.

Those who took rituximab took longer to develop immunity to flu after being vaccinated, the researchers found.

"Individuals who have compromised immune systems, such as with rheumatoid arthritis, are at risk for complications from contracting the flu virus," van Assen said in a news release from the American College of Rheumatology. "We recommend yearly influenza vaccination for all rheumatoid arthritis patients and pre-emptive vaccination for flu should be considered by those patients who start rituximab treatment."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the flu.

Read more:

Poor sleep affects immune system

10 immune system boosters

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Arthritis expert

Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules