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One in Five Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Don’t Have Flu Vaccinations


Research made by The University of Manchester discovered that a large number of rheumatoid arthritis patients don’t have their influenza and pneumonia vaccination, which can possibly raise their infection risk.

The team from the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Epidemiology analyzed data from more than 15 000 patients all of whom suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and were treated with specific types of immunosuppressive drugs. They noticed that one in five patients didn’t receive influenza vaccinations and one in two patients didn’t receive any pneumonia vaccine during a 5 year period.

Unlike the rest of the population, rheumatoid arthritis patients have double the normal risk of infections due to various risk factors. Specialists recommend that all people should be vaccinated in order to be protected from infections like influenza and pneumonia.

According to Dr. Will Dixon, the lead researcher, no national data on vaccination uptake exists so that they could easily select the patients with RA. There is only one study in the US that took an interest whether patients suffering from rheumatic diseases are vaccinated before starting the immunosuppressive therapy.

The study used data provided by electronic patient records in order to analyze the distribution of the two vaccines. Researchers analyzed 15 724 patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis between 200 and 2013. They’ve discovered that young people, who didn’t have another clinical risk category and who didn’t visit their GP very often had a higher chance to not be vaccinated.

Dr. Ben Brown, one of the GP included in the research project, stated that there is no actual information regarding influenza and pneumococcal

vaccination for RA patients and there isn’t a proper budget to carry it out in primary care.

Brown also stated that it could be very helpful for rheumatologist to provide GPs with information regarding the appropriate vaccination for specific patients or even administer the vaccination themselves. Any one of these approaches should be funded properly according to Dr. Brown.

Richard Francis, head of research liaison and evaluation at Arthritis Research UK, stated that there are around 400 000 people in the UK that suffer from debilitating pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The disease itself and the medication used to treat it have a negative impact on the ability to fight infection. What this study does is highlight the importance of vaccination in preventing various infections such as influenza and pneumonia.

Further studies regarding the vaccination of rheumatoid arthritis patients need to be done in order to show exactly how vaccination affects them. The information gathered so far highlights the fact that influenza and pneumonia vaccinations are important for the condition of RA patients.