Background: Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination are recommended for a number of clinical risk groups including patients treated with major immunosuppressant disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. Such immunisation is not only safe but immunogenic in patients with rheumatic diseases. We sought to establish dual vaccination rates and significant influencing factors amongst our hospital rheumatology outpatients.
Method: We audited a sample of 101 patients attending hospital rheumatology outpatient clinics on any form of disease modifying treatment by clinical questionnaire and medical record perusal. Further data were collected from the local immunisation coordinating agency and analysed by logistic regression modelling.
Results: Although there was a high rate of awareness with regard to immunisation, fewer patients on major immunosuppressants were vaccinated than patients with additional clinical risk factors against influenza (53% vs 93%, p < 0.001) or streptococcus pneumoniae (28% vs 64%, p = 0.001). The presence of additional risk factors was confirmed as significant in determining vaccination status by logistic regression for both influenza (OR 10.89, p < 0.001) and streptococcus pneumoniae (OR 4.55, p = 0.002). The diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis was also found to be a significant factor for pneumococcal vaccination (OR 5.1, p = 0.002). There was a negative trend suggesting that patients on major immunosuppressants are less likely to be immunised against pneumococcal antigen (OR 0.35, p = 0.067).
Conclusion: Influenza and pneumococcal immunisation is suboptimal amongst patients on current immunosuppressant treatments attending rheumatology outpatient clinics. Raising awareness amongst patients may not be sufficient to improve vaccination rates and alternative strategies such as obligatory pneumococcal vaccination prior to treatment initiation and primary care provider education need to be explored.