Influenza vaccination of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Clin Dev Immunol. 2006 Jun-Dec;13(2-4):373-5. doi: 10.1080/17402520600800820.


The role of influenza vaccination in patients suffering from autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), has long been a subject of discussion. The risk of exacerbation of the main disease following vaccination is of particular concern, and needs to be carefully evaluated against the risk of disease flares as a result of infections. Our study included 69 SLE patients and 54 RA patients, all in stable condition. We split the groups into two subgroups each: patients in SLE1 (23 patients) and RA1 (23 patients) received the flu vaccine ("Vaxigrip", Aventis Pasteur) in November 2003. Patients in SLE2 (46 patients) and RA2 (31 patients) were not vaccinated. Throughout the following year, we studied parameters of disease activity and the occurrence of viral respiratory and bacterial infections in our patients. The vaccine was well tolerated in all cases. Vaccinated patients had significantly fewer occurrences of infections. Every viral and bacterial infection resulted in the worsening of the main disease. We believe that influenza vaccine is indicated for SLE and RA patients in stable condition. However, this decision must be made on a patient-by-patient basis. We plan to continue our study with the goal of formulating a better protocol for the clinical practice.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / immunology
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Influenza Vaccines / adverse effects*
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology


  • Influenza Vaccines