People living with autoimmune and systemic inflammatory syndromes are at increased risk of vaccine-preventable infections, yet many patients are not getting the vaccines they need. This educational webinar addresses how vaccines work, why vaccines are important, and which vaccines may be recommended for individuals living with an autoimmune or inflammatory condition.
Justin K. Owensby, PharmD, PhD, Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, was joined by CreakyJoints patients and staff for a one-hour webinar to discuss this topic. The presentation concludes with a Q&A session.
Here’s what patient participants said they learned from this webinar:
Here are a few key learnings from CreakyJoints staff:
- Vaccines contain the same agents that cause infectious diseases, but they have been either killed or weakened to the point that they cannot make someone sick. Some vaccines contain only part of the infectious agent.
- A vaccination helps the immune system recognize the infectious disease agent and allows it to “practice” on a weakened or killed version of the agent. When this bacteria or virus invades the body again in full strength, the immune system is ready to respond with a swift and specific defense and therefore better protect you against the infection.
- Having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or other autoimmune disease decreases your body’s natural immune defenses and therefore increases your risk of serious infections by two or three times. In addition, many people with an autoimmune condition take medications that alter some part of the immune response, potentially leaving them more vulnerable to infection. Therefore, it is especially important to speak with your physician about recommended vaccines and get vaccinated if you have an autoimmune condition.
- Live attenuated [weakened] vaccines are designed to produce an infection without symptoms — these vaccines often offer long-term immunity. Live vaccines are somewhat more likely to cause mild side effects as opposed to other vaccine types. Live vaccines are not typically recommended for those with weakened immune systems.
- Inactivated vaccines — sometimes referred to as “killed” vaccines — generally have fewer side effects than live attenuated vaccines but tend to prompt an immune response that is not as strong as live vaccines, so several doses or booster shots may be required. Inactivated vaccines may be taken by patients with autoimmune conditions.
The above are just a few takeaways from the one-hour event. Check out the embedded video below to view the webinar in its entirety, or head on over to youtube.com/CreakyJoints.