In a recent article located at infectiousdiseasenews.com, posted on May 31, 2011, the title reads, “Medicated rheumatoid arthritis patients received less protection from flu vaccine.”
Apparently, according to a new study, patients who took medications for their rheumatoid arthritis had less protection against the influenza pandemic than other patients, according to the study presented at the 2011 Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that most typically affects the small joints in your hands and feet. Unlike the wear-and-tear damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. The autoimmune disorder, also known as RA, occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissues. In addition to causing joint problems, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect your whole body with fevers and fatigue.
The new study showed that a Brazilian hospital-based study assessed responses to influenza vaccines in 340 rheumatoid arthritis patients compared with 234 healthy patients. Measures of protection obtained by vaccination after immunization was about 22% lower for rheumatoid arthritis patients compared with healthy patients.
“This study has highlighted that there are differences in the level of protection between the H1N1 vaccine and the seasonal influenza vaccine so healthcare professionals should not assume that immune response will be the same with different vaccines” said Professor A. Ribeiro of the University of Sao Paolo. “In planning for future pandemic outbreaks, healthcare professionals should consider specific immunization strategies to ensure this large population of patients are as fully protected as possible from the risk of contracting pandemic flu.”
The study used tests to determine levels of detectable antibodies to microorganisms in the blood serum as a result of infection and immunization with the influenza virus showed a similar pattern, the researchers said, with 53.4% of rheumatoid arthritis patients and 76.9% of healthy controls having antibodies present.
Using DAS28, the vaccination’s impact on the disease activity was also measured and nine patients reported worsening of symptoms, with the mean disease activity score changing from 3.66 to 5.15 after H1N1 vaccination. No serious adverse events were noted across either patient group, although more patients in the rheumatoid arthritis group reported more adverse events, 42% vs. 30.8%, with a rate of 140 events/100 patients vs. 87/100 in the control group.
DAS28 (Disease Activity Score) is an index used by physicians to measure how active an individual’s RA is. It assesses number of tender and swollen joints (out of a total of 28), the ethroycyte sedimentation rate (ESR, a blood marker of inflammation), and the patient’s ‘global assessment of global health’. A higher score indicates more active disease
Adverse effects of a flu shot can be soreness and/or swelling in your arm after getting a flu shot. Some people may also have cold-like symptoms, including sniffles, headache, runny nose, sore throat, cough, and body aches for a day or two after getting the flu shot. In some cases, you may also experience a low-grade fever.
If you or a loved one has RA and are considering getting a flu shot be sure to discuss with your physician the likelihood of the immunity of the flu vaccine, according to this study, there may be some area of concern.
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