Patients with Rheumatic Diseases Show Improved Pneumococcal Vaccination Rates

A recent study published in Vaccines found that almost half of patients with autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases (AIIRD) were vaccinated against pneumococcal infection, while more than two-thirds were vaccinated against influenza. These rates suggest an improvement in recent years, although vaccination rates for these viruses remain low in this patient population, who are at higher risk of infection and related mortality.

Patients with Rheumatic Diseases Show Improved Pneumococcal Vaccination Rates 1

The study was conducted in Germany and involved 222 patients with AIIRD who were attending an outpatient clinic at Leipzig University. The team collected data on patient characteristics and vaccination status for influenza, pneumococcus, and herpes zoster (HZ).

The study found that 49.1% of patients with AIIRD were vaccinated against pneumococcal infection, while 68.5% were vaccinated against influenza and 13.1% were vaccinated against HZ. Among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 33.2% had received a pneumococcal vaccination and 53.2% had received an influenza vaccination. However, fewer patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were vaccinated against pneumococcus and influenza (20.6% and 48.5%, respectively), which may be due to the younger age of this patient population.

The German Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) recommends vaccination against influenza and pneumococcus for patients aged 60 years and older with chronic disease or other immune diseases. They also recommended the HZ vaccine to patients with RA and SLE who are aged 50 years and older.

The study authors suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected vaccination rates, and that patient education during outpatient visits is associated with increased vaccination rates against influenza and pneumococcus. Additionally, female patients were more likely than male patients to be vaccinated against pneumococcus, and people aged 60 years and older, who had the influenza vaccine, or used glucocorticoids were factors independently associated with pneumococcus vaccination.

Overall, the study authors recommend using best practice alerts and other techniques to increase vaccination rates in this immunocompromised patient population, especially for patients with SLE. They note that vaccination rates for pneumococcus and HZ need to continue increasing, and that efforts should be made to increase patient education on the importance of vaccination against these viruses.

What is autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases (AIIRD)?

Autoimmune inflammatory rheumatic diseases (AIIRD) are a group of disorders that cause inflammation in the joints, muscles, bones, and organs of the body. The immune system attacks healthy tissues, leading to pain, swelling, stiffness, and damage to the affected areas. These diseases are chronic and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

There are many different types of AIIRD, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Each of these conditions has its own set of symptoms and can affect different parts of the body. While the exact cause of AIIRD is unknown, research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may play a role.

Treatment for AIIRD often involves a combination of medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and prevent joint damage. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical in managing the symptoms of AIIRD and preventing long-term complications.

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