Immunization in rheumatic diseases of childhood: an audit of the clinical practice of British Paediatric Rheumatology Group members and a review of the evidence

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2002 Aug;41(8):937-41. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/41.8.937.


Objectives: To establish opinion and clinical practice of senior clinicians working with children with rheumatic diseases with regard to immunization and to determine whether or not this is in accordance with current recommendations. To review published guidelines on the subject and examine the evidence base supporting them.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to all consultant members of the British Paediatric Rheumatology Group. Information on a variety of issues relating to immunization practice in children with rheumatic diseases was collected. A review of published guidelines and the medical literature on the subject was undertaken to assess current recommendations for immunization in patients on immunosuppressive agents and the evidence supporting these.

Results: A number of different sources of information are being used to decide whether or not to immunize patients with rheumatic diseases. Clinical practice varies between individuals. Areas of discordance include the doses of corticosteroids and disease-modifying drugs at which significant immunosuppression is felt likely to occur, the level of immunosuppression conferred by rheumatological diseases themselves and whether or not vaccination should be deferred in the presence of active disease. There was also variation in policy with regard to immunizations not part of the routine recommended schedule.

Conclusions: There is variation in both opinion and clinical practice regarding immunization in children with rheumatic diseases amongst senior clinicians working in the field of paediatric rheumatology. This reflects the lack of consistency between various sets of published guidelines and their non-specificity for rheumatic diseases and their treatment, and the lack of published evidence on the safety and efficacy of different vaccines in these situations. Further research is indicated in the hope that more specific guidelines may be developed for this not uncommonly encountered area of uncertainty.

Publication types

  • Guideline
  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Juvenile / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / therapy
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Immunization / standards*
  • Medical Audit / standards
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care
  • United Kingdom
  • Vaccines / standards
  • Vaccines / therapeutic use


  • Vaccines