Prevention of bacterial infection, which is a leading cause of morbidity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a priority. However, the safety and immunogenicity of the pneumococcal vaccine in such patients remain controversial. We evaluated the currently available pneumococcal vaccine in patients with RA or SLE. Pneumococcal vaccination was not associated with an appreciable deterioration in any clinical or laboratory measure of disease activity in either group. One month after vaccination, patients in both groups had significant increases in geometric mean concentrations of pneumococcal polysaccharide-specific IgG to all 7 serotypes tested, as did control subjects. However, 14 (33.3%) of 42 patients with RA and 5 (20.8%) of 24 patients with SLE responded either to none or to only 1 of the 7 polysaccharides. Pneumococcal vaccination is generally safe and immunogenic in patients with RA or SLE, but a subset of patients may remain unprotected by the currently available vaccine.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Financial support: National Institutes of Health grant AI-02440 (to J.B.R.).