Should you get vaccinations with a suppressed immune system?

Dear Mayo Clinic: I am 72 and take a drug for rheumatoid arthritis that suppresses my immune system. I’m scheduled to receive a vaccine later this year. Is it safe for me to receive this vaccine?

A: Appropriate and timely vaccines are important for anyone with a suppressed immune system. That’s because a suppressed immune system increases your vulnerability to infections, including those that vaccines can prevent. However, vaccine selection for a person with immune suppression is a nuanced topic.

It’s important to have a detailed discussion with your health care provider, as the choices are individualized based on your circumstances. Many diseases and disease treatments can suppress the immune system. These include cancer and chemotherapy; drugs for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis or inflammatory bowel disease; drugs given after organ transplant; and corticosteroids, which are used for various problems.

It’s possible that vaccines with live viral or bacterial elements could cause an infection in people with suppressed immune systems. Therefore, these vaccines are avoided for people with severe immune suppression. However, select live vaccines sometimes can be safely used in people with milder immune suppression.

Thankfully, several vaccines that are important for older adults —such as the annual flu vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine —aren’t live vaccines and have no risk beyond what occurs in those with healthy immune systems.

Depending on the severity of your immune suppression, your immune system might not fully respond to the vaccine, providing only partial or limited protection against infection. However, partial protection likely will be considered better than none. Also, some vaccines have the option of a stronger dose to boost effectiveness.

In addition, there may be periods of time when your immune function is less suppressed. Vaccine administration can be scheduled for these times for increased effectiveness.

Talk with your health care provider about your concerns. He or she likely will consider the safety, effectiveness and appropriate timing of the vaccinations before making a recommendation for your situation.

Just Posted

Thousands fill City Hall Park for Red Deer Lights the Night

With the flip of a switch, downtown Red Deer was filled with… Continue reading

Central Alberta skiers, snowboarders thrilled for start of season

Central Alberta skiers and snowboarders are finally able to hit the slopes,… Continue reading

CN conductors’ union gives 72-hour strike notice as talks continue

TORONTO — Canadian National Railways conductors, trainpersons and yardpersons have given strike… Continue reading

Auto insurance to climb for central Alberta motorists

It’s going to be tough on many businesses, says local courier company owner

Canada’s Salvation Army testing out quicker tap-and-go option at kettle stations

TORONTO — Canada’s Salvation Army is testing out a new and faster… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Nov. 19 The Mountview Sunnybrook Community Association will hold its AGM at… Continue reading

Man, 66 struck and killed by vehicle in Regina intersection

REGINA — Police in Regina say a 66-year-old man is dead after… Continue reading

Homicide unit investigating after body found in burned SUV in Abbotsford, B.C.

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — Homicide detectives have been handed the case after police… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — There was no winning ticket for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

Abortions rights advocates urge Liberals to turn politics into policy

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned for re-election on a promise… Continue reading

Impeachment testimony comes from White House budget official

WASHINGTON — House impeachment investigators met in private Saturday with a White… Continue reading

Football brings some peace to Sioux family after suicide

VERMILLION, S.D. — Teenagers Jashawn and Jayton Pease embraced in the end… Continue reading

St. Mark’s Square reopens in Venice, but water remains high

VENICE, Italy — Tourists and residents were allowed back into St. Mark’s… Continue reading

Most Read