Recommended vaccinations for those with IBD

February 4, 2015 Karlee J. Ausk, MD

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a persistent inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal system affecting over one million Americans. Treatment of IBD often requires altering a patient’s immune response and can increase the risk for infectious complications. To help prevent this, the American Gastroenterological Association and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation have published immunization guidelines for IBD patients. Despite these recommendations, less than half of IBD patients are up-to-date on their recommended immunizations. Studies show that the most common reason for missing vaccinations is the lack of awareness that immunizations are safe and recommended.

If you are immune-suppressed, inactivated vaccines are safe and should be given. I would recommend:

  • Annual influenza vaccine (avoid the nasal flu mist)

  • Pneumococcal immunization

  • Tetanus toxoid every 10 years

  • Hepatitis B assessment and immunization if antibody titer negative

Live vaccines (such as the nasal flu mist, MMR, Herpes Zoster, and Varicella immunizations) are generally not recommended if you are immune-suppressed. Ask your doctor if you are unsure if these vaccinations are safe for you.

Many infectious diseases can lead to severe diseases, particularly in those on immunosuppressing medications. However, these diseases are vaccine-preventable. As a caregiver, I work on educating patients about the safety and reason for using these immunizations. As patients, you can advocate for your health by asking your care provider about recommended immunizations based on your health history.

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