Why do I need vaccinations?
Studies have shown that people with most rheumatic diseases are at a higher risk of infection and that infections may be more severe, for example, in people with rheumatoid arthritis. This can be due to the condition itself or its treatment, such as disease-modifying anti-inflammatory drugs (DMARDS) or steroids.
Other non-disease factors may increase the risk of infection further, such as:
- having diabetes
- drinking too much alcohol
- old age.
Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and vasculitis are examples of an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system attacks your body’s own tissues rather than foreign bacteria or viruses. Because of their effect on the immune system, these conditions can make you more at risk of infection.
In these conditions, drugs may be used to regulate the immune system and control the disease. But because the drugs dampen down the immune system they can also make you more prone to infection.
The medical term used to describe an increased risk of infection due to drugs or disease is immunosuppression.