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This page contains answers to common questions about rheumatic conditions and treatment. If you need further assistance please phone our advice line on 01473 703315. As there are a large number of questions on this page you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Rheumatology FAQs

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Can I have vaccinations whilst I am on medication for my condition?

If your immune system is suppressed due to medication, it is particularly important that you are adequately protected. Vaccinations for hepatitis A and typhoid are generally inactivated, and are therefore quite safe. However, if you are receiving treatment with immunosuppressive drugs such as methotrexate, leflunomide (Arava), azathioprine, adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade) you should avoid ‘live’ vaccinations: these include oral polio vaccine and yellow fever vaccine. An alternative inactivated polio vaccine is available, if required. You should also avoid contact, where possible, with adults or children who have received the ‘live’ oral polio vaccine, for 6 weeks after vaccination: in particular you should not change babies’ nappies, since they will excrete the live polio virus in their faeces for this time. Rubella (German measles) vaccine is also ‘live’ and you should avoid this whilst on immunosuppressive treatment.

Vaccination against yellow fever may be an entry requirement for some countries and you are advised to consider this prior to making your travel arrangements. If you are planning to travel abroad, you should seek advice from your GP at least 6 weeks before your departure, since some vaccinations may need ordering for you.