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Health Tip: Patients With Arthritic Conditions Strongly Advised To Receive Flu Shot Vaccine

In an article posted by the *Arthritis Foundation, patients who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lupus, psoriatic arthritis and other autoimmune forms of arthritis are at an increased risk of infections including influenza (the flu) and pneumonia. This article comes in a timely manner as the cold winter months and flu season is upon us.

I have arthritis; why am I at higher risk than others?

The flu can be very dangerous to anyone. However, individuals who have been diagnosed with some form of inflammatory arthritic condition are more prone to catching infections due to a weakened immune system. Various forms of arthritis can “change how the immune system functions,” according to the article. Furthermore, the medications used to control arthritic diseases have a tendency to suppress the immune system altogether.

Guidelines according to the CDC

The guidelines suggest that people with a chronic inflammatory condition who take immunosuppressive medications – including methotrexate and various biologic drugs – get the flu shot according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention annual schedule, as well as the pneumonia vaccine. The CDC also encourages others in your household should also be vaccinated.

Dr. Elaine Husni – Director of the Arthritis/Musculoskeletal Treatment Center at Cleveland Clinic Weighs In:

If you haven’t yet started on a medication that suppresses your immune system, now is the time to make sure you’ve gotten all the vaccinations you need. It’s important to talk with your doctor about vaccinations and making sure you’re up to date” – Dr. Husni

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