A practical approach to vaccination of patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases in Australia

Peter K C Wong, Hanish Bagga, Claire Barrett, Paddy Hanrahan, Doug Johnson, Amel Katrib, Karin Leder, Mona Marabani, Peta Pentony, John Riordan, Ray White, Laurel Young

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases (AIIRD), such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis are often complicated by infection, which results in significant morbidity and mortality. The increased risk of infection is probably due to a combination of immunosuppressive effects of the AIIRD, comorbidities and the use of immunosuppressive conventional synthetic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and more recently, targeted synthetic DMARDs and biologic DMARDs that block specific pro-inflammatory enzymes, cytokines or cell types. The use of these various DMARDs has revolutionised the treatment of AIIRD. This has led to a marked improvement in quality of life for AIIRD patients, who often now travel for prolonged periods. Many infections are preventable with vaccination. However, as protective immune responses induced by vaccination may be impaired by immunosuppression, where possible, vaccination may need to be performed prior to initiation of immunosuppression. Vaccination status should also be reviewed when planning overseas travel. Limited data regarding vaccine efficacy in patients with AIIRD make prescriptive guidelines difficult. However, a vaccination history should be part of the initial work-up in all AIIRD patients. Those caring for AIIRD patients should regularly consider vaccination to prevent infection within the practicalities of routine clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-500
Number of pages10
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • biologics
  • immunosuppression
  • infection
  • rheumatic disease
  • vaccination

Cite this