Rheumatoid Arthritis And The Flu

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy 8 Comments

While Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy is moving into a warmer season, he knows that most of you are heading into autumn and winter. In addition to the leaves changing colors and pumpkin spice coffee being served in every coffee shop, the colder weather also brings in increased risk of getting a cold or a flu. (And let’s not even get started on what it does to arthritic joints.)

A few days ago, Stephanie left the following comment on Rheumatoid Guy’s Facebook fan page.

I had a question, do you get flu shots? And are you going to get the swine flu shot? I never get them but now with all the immune suppressing drugs we all take , I wanted to get others feedback on what their doctor or how they personally felt about getting a flu shot.

I have not taken flu vaccinations of any type…but I might just be in the minority.

I would recommend taking a look at the following links. Jo-Ann Colburn from LivingRheum has collected and continues to collect a lot of great information on the topic of rheumatoid arthritis and the flu. (This is also a great resource for many other issues related to rheumatoid arthritis.)

LivingRheum Avatar
Rheumatoid Arthritis Resources for Living with RA

Autoimmune Diseases and Flu Season: H1N1 (Swine Flu) and Seasonal Flu

Swine Flu and Autoimmune Diseases

If you live in the UK, you might also be interested in signing the following petition.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Fund GP’s to make available flu vaccinations for Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic auto-immune disease. Sufferers are not currently entitled to a free flu vaccination if they are under retirement age. After retirement age they are called in automatically and funded.

Doctors do not stock enough vaccine to provide their rheumatoid patients with a vaccination as the vaccines are government funded.

This also applies to receipt of the swine flu vaccine when available.

This petition is particularly relevant to anyone who takes prescription drugs to control their rheumatoid arthritis.

As a group with an auto-immune disease we should be treated the same as other groups with auto-immune diseases who are entitled to the vaccination.

More Info: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/fluvaccinations/#detail.

Want some tips on how to stay warm during the winter? Check out My Own Personal Kryptonite.

Here’s wishing everyone a flu-free future!

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

Comments 8

  1. Laurie

    I work as a nurse, so I usually get the regular flu shots. I did have a swine flu vaccination in 76….but am not going to get one because I am on Rituxan, and my rheumatologist wants me to wait for 6 weeks after the next rituxan dose. She also said NO NASAL vaccines,EVER because they are live virus based (she also said no nasal vaccine if you are on Humira, Enbrel, orencia or remicaade because of the lowered immunity.

    We have had some of our pregnant moms come in with swine flu in the last month or so. Luckily I am in the nursery and don’t have to take care of them. The visitors worry me more than anything. Even tho we have large posters about Swine flu and hand sanitizer at every entrance and patient room, people still insist on visiting the new mom and newborn when ill and get really offended when we ask them to leave because they are obviously ill or recovering. We have had a dad come down with a fever and chills and refuse to wear a face mask during the delivery to protect the staff. He tested positive for swine flu, and at least 20 nurses who were in contact with that mom and dad had to take Tamiflu and miss 48 hours of work (and worker’s comp does not kick in to pay until 2 weeks). Hate to see what happens when the big epidemic hits.

  2. Terry

    I had a nasty bought with pneumonia the first winter I was on Enbrel. After getting a stern warning and talking to by my rheumatologist, I have taken a flu shot and pneumonia shot every year. In a surprise move, there was a memo posted last night at work, the company I work for is offering the flu shot free this year.

  3. Jo-Ann Colburn

    I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you RA Guy for the recommendations. I am truly flattered by your kind words. I hope that the information and my own experience with the swine flu will help not only keep those of us with compromised immune systems informed but hopefully keep the whole issue of the flu in perspective.

    Thanks again.


  4. Lisa

    I’ve had RA for 14 years and during the first few years, I received annual flu shots because my Dr. thought it best because of my immune system. However, after about three years I noticed that I would flare after the shot for a few months. So in the end I decided that the risk of getting the flu didn’t outweigh the higher risk of having a flare.
    I know it’s just one person’s experience, but I encourage folks to think about their history of flares to see if there’s a connection to their fu shots. Then you can weigh the risks/benefits.

  5. Steph P

    In Canada, at least in the province of Ontario where I live, everyone is entitled to a free flu shot. I get them every year as I always get the flu. Yes, even with the shot, I still get the flu but it’s no where near as bad as if I hadn’t gotten the shot. I also get pneumonia shots (also free for me). In fact my Rheumatologist would not allow me to even start MTX until I had proven that I had received both the flu and pneumonia shots. I am also to get the swine flu shot (but the one that does not contain live virus).

  6. CRK

    A note on the swine flu vaccine. My rheumatologist told me that here in the U.S., the CDC is providing free vaccine to rheumatologists for their patients on biologics (Humira, Simponi, etc.) and therefore have suppressed immunity — so I am scheduled for my [free] shot(s) as soon as they come available. Other US residents ought to check with their docs to see if this is the case where they live (I’m in Dallas). I would think it would be a nationwide program, but as we all know, sometimes you have to ask. My employer is also giving free regular flu shots to all staff. As much as it costs to care for RA, free is a good thing.

  7. turtlemom

    I’m going to get the flu shot and the swine flu shot as soon as it is available (hopefully soon!). I get them every year and I haven’t had flu at all since I started getting them – haven’t even had a really bad cold – just a couple of very mild ones. I’ll also get an Rx for Tamiflu from my internist to have on hand “just in case.” My husband has a bad heart, and will have to go on it, too if flu of any kind comes into the house!

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