Make sure you’re up to date on all your vaccines to protect against infections.
Getting immunizations is especially important if you have an autoimmune disease, because the disease and medications may raise your infection risk.
Protects against: the illness caused by the highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus and its mutations, or variants
Who needs it: All children 12 and older and all adults who do not have a severe allergy (anaflaxis) to vaccine ingredients. Those who are immunocompromised or take immunosuppressant medications, and those with diabetes, obesity, or lung or heart conditions especially should receive them. Vaccines by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech each require at least two doses, and a third for certain immunocompromised people, including rheumatology patients being actively treated with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory. Efficacy of the vaccines is reduced over time, so a third injection may be more widely recommended for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. Research is underway to determine whether a second Johnson & Johnson vaccine is advisable. For current updates, read our COVID-19 FAQs and listen to experts in our COVID-19 related webinars.
Protects against: seasonal flu and the complications that can go along with it
Who needs it: Anyone over six months of age, and particularly people with chronic diseases. If you have an inflammatory form of arthritis, get the injection, not the nasal flu vaccine (FluMist), which is made from a live virus. If your immune system is compromised, the live vaccine may make you sick. If you take methotrexate, talk to your doctor about stopping the drug for two weeks after immunization; a study showed the shot may be more effective that way.
Protects against: a painful infection caused by the virus that causes chicken pox
Who needs it: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the Shingrix vaccine for adults aged 50 and older, including those who’ve received the Zostavax vaccine, which is no longer available in the U.S., and those who've had shingles or aren't sure if they’ve had chickenpox (including those with inflammatory arthritis). It is given by injection in two doses, two to six months apart.
Protects against: a serious infection that can cause pneumonia, meningitis and bloodstream infection (sepsis)
Who needs it: Anyone 65 or older; people younger than 65 whose immune system is compromised should consult their doctor.
Protects against: a severe respiratory infection that can be fatal in infants and debilitating in adults
Who needs it: Those 19 or older who haven’t had a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster
Reviewed August 2021
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