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Vaccines and arthritis: what you need to know

Vaccines and arthritis: what you need to know

For people affected by arthritis, an episode of another illness or disease could have serious consequences. However, some people living with a chronic condition may question whether they are a good candidate for vaccines.

To know which vaccines are recommended and safe for someone living with arthritis, here are a few things to consider and discuss with your healthcare provider:

  • Most of the major adult vaccines, including shingles, tetanus, diphtheria and pneumococcal, are inactivated vaccines, which means they do not contain a live virus. Inactivated vaccines are generally considered safe and effective in people taking antirheumatic drugs.

  • The yearly flu shot, which is also an inactivated vaccine, is generally recommended for people affected by arthritis.

  • Preferably, inactivated vaccines should be administered before starting disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug treatments (DMARDs), but treatment should not be withheld or postponed.

  • Some less common vaccines, such as yellow fever, contain a living but weakened strain of a virus or bacteria. Live vaccines are not usually recommended for people taking biologics and long-term corticosteroids.

Should people with arthritis get the COVID-19 vaccine?

At this time, there is limited data on the use of the COVID-19 vaccine for people who are immunosuppressed because of disease or medications they are taking. This could include people with inflammatory forms of arthritis. We suggest you discuss the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine with your healthcare provider.

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