Immunisation of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: the current state of play

Lupus. 1999;8(7):497-501. doi: 10.1191/096120399678840855.


Concerns regarding the safety and efficacy of immunisation in patients with SLE have persisted for over 50 y and indeed infection remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in these patients. There have been many anecdotal reports in the literature linking vaccination with either induction or exacerbation of SLE disease. However prospective studies have shown that immunisation with inactivated/killed vaccines is probably safe in patients with SLE. Individuals on immunosuppressive agents and/or high dose steroid (more than 20 mg/d) should not receive live vaccines, as stated in guidelines proposed by the British Society of Rheumatology. The safety of hepatitis B vaccination in patients with SLE is as yet undetermined and a prospective study is required. However until such evidence becomes available the advice of the BSR should be followed and patients with SLE who are at risk of exposure should be vaccinated. It remains uncertain whether the immune response to immunisation is significantly impaired by active disease and/or immunosuppressive treatment and to what extent. Most patients do however seem to mount a satisfactory immune response though this may not be quantitatively and qualitatively the same as healthy controls.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communicable Disease Control / trends
  • Humans
  • Immunization / trends*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / adverse effects*
  • Vaccines, Inactivated / adverse effects*


  • Vaccines, Attenuated
  • Vaccines, Inactivated