Influenza and pneumococcal vaccination and varicella status in inflammatory arthritis patients

Ir Med J. 2011 Jul-Aug;104(7):208-11.


Patients with inflammatory arthritis are at increased risk of vaccine preventable infections. This risk is increased by immunomodulatory therapies. Vaccination for influenza and pneumococcal disease reduces the risk. Severe cases of varicella infection have occurred in patients on biologic therapies. We sought to identify vaccination rates for commonly acquired infections and to ascertain varicella immune status in patients with inflammatory arthritis. 100 patients with inflammatory arthritis were administered a standardised questionnaire. Data collected included age, diagnosis, vaccination history, history of varicella, treatment and the presence of other indications for vaccination. 58 patients (58%) had not received the influenza vaccine in the past year. Only 19 patients (19%) had ever received pneumococcal vaccine. Anti TNF use did not predict vaccination (p = .46). An increasing number of co morbid conditions predicted both pneumococcal (p < 0.003) and influenza vaccine (p < 0.03) administration. Nineteen patients (19%) gave no history of varicella infection, none having had varicella titres checked pre treatment. Immunisation rates in patients with inflammatory arthritis on immunosuppressive therapies are low. Immunisation schedules should be available for each patient during rheumatology and general practice consultations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Chickenpox / immunology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Influenza, Human / immunology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumococcal Infections / immunology
  • Pneumococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines