Got RA? Get a Flu Shot!

Many parts of the country continue to enjoy summer weather, but fall is just around the corner. And that means flu season is on the way. Influenza vaccinations continue to offer the best way to avoid coming down with the flu. Flu shots can’t protect against every case of the flu, but for the small number of people who get the flu despite a flu shot, they will generally have a less severe infection. This is important when one considers that the flu can vary from mild to severe, with death as a possible outcome.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone get a vaccination against the seasonal flu every year. This advice should particularly be heeded by anyone with a preexisting condition or who is otherwise in a high risk group, which includes:

  • People over the age of 65
  • Pregnant women
  • Children younger than 59 months
  • Anyone with compromised immune function
  • Anyone with certain medical conditions (e.g., chronic cardiac, pulmonary, renal, metabolic, neurodevelopmental, liver, or hematologic diseases)

New research now suggests that people with rheumatoid arthritis, especially those over the age of 65, particularly benefit from a yearly flu shot. The influenza vaccine significantly lowers morbidity and mortality in this demographic. Specifically, hospitalizations for flu complications went down and flu-related deaths were also lessened by the flu vaccine. These benefits showed strongest in older population groups.

This year – and really any year – make sure to take the time to get a flu shot, especially if you have rheumatoid arthritis.

Sources

Chen C-M, Chen H-J, Chen W-S, et al. Clinical effectiveness of influenza vaccination in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Intl J Rheum Dis https://doi.org/10.1111/1756-185X.13322

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