Rheumatology FAQs

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Vaccinations and your condition

Can I have vaccinations whilst I am on medication for my condition?

If your immune system is suppressed due to medication, it is particularly important that you are adequately protected. If you are receiving treatment with immunosuppressive drugs such as methotrexate, leflunomide, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, or a biologic (such as adalimumab, etanercept, infliximab, certolizumab, rituximab, tocilizumab, abatacept, secukinumab) you should avoid ‘live’ vaccinations: these include oral polio vaccine, yellow fever vaccine and german measles (Rubella). An alternative inactivated polio vaccine is available, if required.

You should also avoid contact, where possible, with adults or children who have received the ‘live’ oral polio vaccine, for six weeks after vaccination: in particular you should not change babies’ nappies, since they will excrete the live polio virus in their faeces for this time.

Vaccination against yellow fever may be an entry requirement for some countries, so discuss this with your GP before making travel arrangements. If you are planning to travel abroad, you should seek advice from your GP at least six weeks before your departure since some vaccinations may need ordering for you.

Should I have the flu and/or pneumonia vaccinations?

If you are on immunosuppressive medication such as Methotrexate or on a biologic medication, the flu vaccination (which is inactivated) is recommended on a yearly basis. Likewise, the pneumonia (pneumococcal) vaccine is recommended for all patients with rheumatological conditions on immunosuppressive drugs.

Vaccination against COVID-19 for patients with a rheumatic disease

Description for this block. Use this space for describing your block. Any text will do. We strongly recommend that all patients with a rheumatic disease should be eligible to receive and should respond to the vaccine.

We strongly advise you to take whichever vaccine is available to you in your area as soon as you are offered one.

Whilst some immunosuppressed patients may have a lower immunological response to the vaccine, it is still worth getting the vaccine to protect your health.

Please refer to the www. gov.uk and British Society of Rheumatology websites for full up to date guidance. 

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