Objective: To obtain an overview of rheumatic disorders occurring after hepatitis B vaccination.
Methods: A questionnaire was sent to rheumatology departments in nine French hospitals. Criteria for entry were rheumatic complaints of 1 week's duration or more, occurrence during the 2 months following hepatitis B vaccination, no previously diagnosed rheumatic disease and no other explanation for the complaints.
Results: Twenty-two patients were included. The observed disorders were as follows: rheumatoid arthritis for six patients; exacerbation of a previously non-diagnosed systemic lupus erythematosus for two; post-vaccinal arthritis for five; polyarthralgia-myalgia for four; suspected or biopsy-proved vasculitis for three; miscellaneous for two.
Conclusions: Hepatitis B vaccine might be followed by various rheumatic conditions and might trigger the onset of underlying inflammatory or autoimmune rheumatic diseases. However, a causal relationship between hepatitis B vaccination and the observed rheumatic manifestations cannot be easily established. Further epidemiological studies are needed to establish whether hepatitis B vaccination is associated or not with an incidence of rheumatic disorders higher than normal.