Infections and Immunizations
Preventing Infection With Immunizations
The risk of certain types of infection can be decreased with immunization (vaccinations). Nearly all individuals with lupus are vaccinated against a variety of diseases with little difficulty.
However, it is theoretically possible that immunization with vaccines that use live viruses will result in a lupus flare. Nevertheless, polio, measles, and tetanus vaccines, which all use live viruses, have been given to hundreds of thousands of people who have lupus, with no adverse reactions. Passive immunization (i.e., vaccinating with a killed virus), poses no problems. Gammaglobulin is an example of a vaccine which uses a nonspecific antibody instead of a live virus.
It should be noted that people with lupus may have adverse reactions to two types of immunizations.
1) First, some who receive allergy shots (immunotherapy) will experience a lupus flare following treatment.
- In 1989, the World Health Organization recommended that people with autoimmune diseases should not receive certain types of allergy shots.
- Allergy shots might cause the person to make more anti-DNA and other lupus-related antibodies in addition to making antibodies against the agent causing the allergy.
- People with lupus are advised to consult their rheumatologist before receiving any type of allergy immunotherapy.
2) Some lupus patients may also experience difficulties after receiving influenza, or "flu" vaccines.
- Flu vaccines may not work as well if the individual has lupus.
- Nevertheless, most rheumatologists do recommend vaccinations against the flu.
On the Internet
An Ounce of Prevention Keeps the Germs Away - Center for Disease Control (CDC)
MedlinePlus: Bacterial Infections
MedlinePlus: Fungal Infections
MedlinePlus: Infections Topics
Medplus: Viral Infections