Vaccination in patients with chronic rheumatic or autoimmune diseases

Clin Infect Dis. 2008 May 1;46(9):1459-65. doi: 10.1086/587063.


Patients who have chronic rheumatic or autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or vasculitides, show a risk of infection that is at least 2-fold greater than that for healthy individuals. This increased risk is not only a result of the aberrant immunologic reaction itself but also can be attributed to the immunosuppressive therapy required to control the activity of the underlying disease and the associated organ complications. Vaccination is an option for a substantial number of these infections. In this context, pneumococcal and influenza vaccines are the best evaluated and are recommended by standard vaccination guidelines. Some studies have found mildly impaired immune responses to vaccines among patients receiving long-term immunosuppressive therapy, but postvaccination antibody titers are usually sufficient to provide protection for the majority of immunized individuals. The accumulated data on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines warrant immunization with the majority of vaccines for patients with chronic autoimmune or rheumatic diseases, especially vaccination against influenza and pneumococci. Vaccination protocols for this population should be better implemented in daily clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Influenza Vaccines / adverse effects
  • Influenza Vaccines / immunology
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / adverse effects
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / immunology
  • Rheumatic Diseases / immunology*
  • Vaccination*


  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines