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Vaccines & Lupus

Lupus fighters are at increased risk of developing infection due to a compromised immune system as well as the immunosuppressives used to treat Lupus.  Morbidity rates of infections such as the flu, pneumonia, etc. are also increased in Lupus fighters.  Because of this it is recommended that Lupus fighters be vaccinated against these diseases. 

Vaccines contain very small amounts of either dead or very weakened forms of the disease that allow your body to develop an immunity to them.   It is not possible to get the disease from a dead vaccine.  It is not safe however, for immunocompromised people to get live vaccines.  Below are some details about specific vaccines and how they relate to Lupus.

  • Seasonal Flu Vaccine - It is recommended that Lupus fighters get this vaccine every year, it is a dead vaccine and can not cause you to get the flu, on average about 36,000 Americans die from the flu every year, immunocompromised patients are at high risk

  • H1N1 Flu Vaccine - It is recommended that Lupus fighters get this vaccine, there are 2 versions of this vaccine - the shot version is a dead virus and is safe for Lupus fighters, the nasal spray is a weakened form of the virus and is NOT safe for the immunocompromised

  • Pneumonia Vaccine - It is recommended that Lupus fighters get a Pneumococcal vaccine as well as a second one 5 years later, this is a dead vaccine, Pneumonia can be very dangerous for Lupus patients, particularly those taking immunosuppressives

  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Td/Tdap) Vaccine - Lupus Fighters are recommended to get one dose of Tdap followed by a dose of Td every 10 years after, this is a dead vaccine, the T part of the vaccine protects against Tetanus, the d against diphtheria and the ap against pertussis (whopping cough)

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine - Like all women age 11-26, female Lupus fighters are recommended to get this series of 3 vaccine, this is not a live virus

  • Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine - This is a live vaccine and it is recommended that people with Lupus do NOT get this vaccine, contact with the disease should be avoided, family members and those you come into contact with regularly getting vaccinated can help protect you

  • Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Vaccine - This is a live vaccine and it is recommended that people with Lupus do NOT get this vaccine, contact with chickenpox should be avoided

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) Vaccine - This is a live vaccine and it is recommended that people with Lupus do NOT get this vaccine, contact with the diseases should be avoided, family members and those you come into contact with regularly getting vaccinated can help protect you

  • Hepatitis A Vaccine - This is recommended to Lupus fighters if there is some additional risk factor present (eg. lifestyle, occupational or medical indications), Lupus hepatitis is an additional risk factor, it is a dead vaccine.

  • Hepatitis B Vaccine - This is recommended to Lupus fighters if there is some additional risk factor present (eg. lifestyle, occupational or medical indications), Lupus hepatitis and Lupus nephritis are additional risk factors, it is a dead vaccine.

  • Meningococcal Vaccine - This is recommended to Lupus fighters if there is some additional risk factor present (eg. lifestyle, occupational or medical indications), it is a dead vaccine

  • Childhood and Adolescent Vaccines - Children with Lupus should get dead vaccines on the same vaccination schedule recommended by the CDC, other vaccines should be discussed with your doctor

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