Tag: arthritis

Autoimmunity as a Contraindication to Getting Vaccinated

Can your kids get vaccinated if they have an autoimmune disease?

Can your kids get vaccinated if you or another family member have an autoimmune disease?

Folks shouldn't be using 23andMe DNA testing to justify their not wanting to vaccinate their kids.
Folks shouldn’t be using 23andMe DNA testing to justify their not wanting to vaccinate their kids.

Can your kids get vaccinated if you did one of those 23andMe genetic risk type tests?

“Risks associated with use of the 23andMe GHR tests include false positive findings, which can occur when a person receives a result indicating incorrectly that he or she has a certain genetic variant, and false negative findings that can occur when a user receives a result indicating incorrectly that he or she does not have a certain genetic variant. Results obtained from the tests should not be used for diagnosis or to inform treatment decisions. Users should consult a health care professional with questions or concerns about results.”

FDA allows marketing of first direct-to-consumer tests that provide genetic risk information for certain conditions

Not surprisingly, in almost all cases, the answer is yes.

Autoimmunity as a Contraindication to Getting Vaccinated

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some true medical reasons that kids shouldn’t be vaccinated.

“Contraindications (conditions in a recipient that increases the risk for a serious adverse reaction) and precautions to vaccination are conditions under which vaccines should not be administered. Because the majority of contraindications and precautions are temporary, vaccinations often can be administered later when the condition leading to a contraindication or precaution no longer exists. A vaccine should not be administered when a contraindication is present; for example, MMR vaccine should not be administered to severely immunocompromised persons. However, certain conditions are commonly misperceived as contraindications (i.e., are not valid reasons to defer vaccination).”

Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP

Which autoimmune diseases are listed as contraindications to get vaccinated?

None.

Which autoimmune diseases are listed as precautions to get vaccinated?

There are just a few, including Guillain-Barré syndrome (DTaP, Tdap, and flu vaccines) and thrombocytopenic purpura (MMR), but they typically don’t mean that you can’t still get vaccinated. And the general precaution to avoid getting a vaccine during “moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever” would apply to a time when you are acutely sick with your autoimmune disease, but you would get vaccinated once your symptoms were under better control.

Other things about autoimmune diseases are simply misperceived as being contraindications or precautions to getting vaccinated. Or they are pushed as anti-vaccine propaganda to scare you away from getting vaccinated and protected or to help you get a fake medical exemption.

“…vaccines are able to prevent some infections in MS patients known to accelerate the progression of the disease and increase the risk of relapses.”

Mailand et al on Vaccines and multiple sclerosis: a systemic review

For example, not only do vaccines not cause multiple sclerosis, they are recommended because they can prevent vaccine-preventable diseases that can make the disease worse for many people.

And flu shots and other vaccines are highly recommended for kids with diabetes, as they are at high risk for flu complications.

Vaccines are safe and necessary, even, and sometimes especially, if you have an autoimmune disease.

And having a predisposition for an autoimmune disease, either because of your child’s family history, or because of the results of some genetic testing kit you ordered on the internet, certainly isn’t a reason to skip or delay your child’s vaccines and leave them unprotected. You’re not avoiding any of the triggers that can cause autoimmune disease and simply increase the risk that they will get a vaccine-preventable disease and get others sick.

More on Autoimmunity as a Contraindication to Getting Vaccinated

Do Vaccines Cause HSP?

Have you ever heard of HSP?

Children with Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP) typically have a purplish rash (purpura), joint pain and swelling (arthritis), and severe stomach pains. They can also have blood in their urine (hematuria).

Palpable purpura in a toddler with HSP, likely after a Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection.
Palpable purpura in a toddler with HSP, likely after a Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection. (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

While those can all be very scary symptoms, fortunately, they typically go away without any treatment.

What Causes HSP?

HSP, also known as IgA Vasculitis, is an autoimmune reaction.

“Henoch-Schönlein purpura is caused by an abnormal immune system response in which the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own cells and organs.”

What is Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP)?

We don’t know why some kids have this abnormal immune reaction.

We do know that it most commonly occurs after a viral upper respiratory tract infection, although other infections, including chickenpox, measles, and hepatitis, can also trigger HSP.

Do Vaccines Cause HSP?

HSP has been associated with almost anything, from medications and foods, to insect bites and exposure to cold weather, so it is not surprising that some folks would think that vaccines could be a trigger too.

There are even some case reports of children developing HSP after receiving a vaccine. It is important to remember that a case report is basically a gloried anecdote though. It is not the kind of high quality evidence you really want if you are trying to make a case trying to prove causality.

One small study did suggest an increased risk following the MMR vaccine, but it only looked at hospitalized children with HSP. And of 288 hospitalized children with HSP, only eight had received a recent vaccine.

A more robust study, Vaccination and Risk of Childhood IgA Vasculitis, recently found that common childhood vaccines did not significantly increase the risk of HSP.

What to Know About Vaccines and HSP

Since some vaccine-preventable diseases can cause Henoch-Schönlein purpura, there is no evidence that vaccines can cause HSP beyond isolated case reports, and the most recent evidence shows that vaccines do not cause HSP, parents should vaccinate their kids, even if they have had a previous episode of HSP.

More on Vaccines and HSP