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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 13, Issue 2-4, Pages 373-375
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17402520600800820

Influenza Vaccination of Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

“Bezhanijska kosa” University Medical Center, Belgrade University, Serbia

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

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 protocole for the clinical practice.