Is it safe for people with an autoimmune disease like Sjögren’s, to get the flu shot? We’re looking back at an article from our “Connections” Newsletter by Dr. Ann Parke, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatic Diseases, University of Connecticut School of Medicine about Sjögren’s and the flu shot.

Previous studies have shown that the flu shot is NOT contraindicated in patients with Lupus.  As we now consider Sjögren’s and Lupus to be cousins, I think it is safe to say that the same applies to Sjögren’s patients.

The only points to be added are that it is probably safer for patients to have the injection rather than the nasal application.  This is because the nasal form contains live virus whereas the injected form is not live virus, and in all cases, I would try to avoid live virus vaccination in patients with autoimmune disease.

The other point to be made is if the patient is on prednisone or other potent immunosuppression then the patient may not be able to respond to the vaccine as well as they would if they were not on medication and so they will not get as much benefit from the vaccine.

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) probably would not limit the response as much as say steroids or azathioprine but this has not been formally studied as far as I know and this comment is just my personal opinion.