Adults with rheumatoidarthritis (RA) will be glad to hearthat they can safely receive theannual influenza vaccine, althoughthey may not respondas well to it as people withoutRA. In the past, clinicians werereluctant to administer the vaccineto these patients becauseof reports of postvaccinationflare-ups in disease activity, aswell as an uncertain responseof the immune system of thesepatients.
A study performed at the TelAviv (Israel) Medical Centerinvolved 82 patients with RAand 30 patients without thedisease, who were all given theflu vaccine. There were significantincreases in antibody concentrationsfor each antigen inthe vaccine; however, theselevels were lower in RApatients than in healthy ones.Regardless, the response of theRA patients' immune systemswas strong enough to offerprotection against these antigens.More importantly, thevaccine was not associatedwith RA flares.
The researchers concludedthat, "based on [these] data,?vaccination against influenza,which is strongly indicatedin RA, can be recommendedin patients with this disease."The study was published inthe February 2006 edition ofthe Annals of RheumaticDisease.