Clinical Dialogue: Optimizing Vaccination in Immunosuppressed Patients with Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disease

Patients with autoimmune or inflammatory disease, such as rheumatologic diseases, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease, are at increased risk for serious infection. Potent immunosuppressive therapy, which largely comprises biologic agents, has become the mainstay of treatment for many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions but also plays a major role in raising infection risk. Many infections that may affect immunosuppressed patients are preventable. However, vaccination rates among immunosuppressed patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are low. PAs are well-positioned for providing preventive care, of which vaccination is an important component. Since PAs and specialists share responsibility for vaccinating immunosuppressed patients, care coordination is essential for ensuring that patients are appropriately vaccinated. Therefore, PAs need to be knowledgeable about evidence-based recommendations for vaccination in patients with autoimmune or inflammatory disease, particularly those treated with biologics and other immunosuppressive agents.

Learning Objectives
At the conclusion of this activity, the PA should be better able to:
  • Summarize guideline recommendations for vaccinating patients treated with biologics and immunosuppressive therapy.
  • Implement strategies to coordinate care between primary care providers and specialists to ensure appropriate vaccination of immunosuppressed patients.
  • Employ effective approaches to patient counseling and education to improve patient adherence to vaccination recommendations.