How to vaccinate patients on biologics



SAN FRANCISCO– The new herpes zoster subunit vaccine (Shingrix) is on the short list of essential vaccines for immunocompromised adults, including those on biologics.

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Ongoing research is demonstrating efficacy and safety in renal transplants patients, as well as those with hematologic cancer and stem cell transplants, according to Lorry Rubin, MD, director of pediatric infectious diseases at Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Queens, and professor of pediatrics at Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y.

Immunocompromised people, including those on biologics, should be immunized against a variety of diseases just like everyone else, but it’s tricky. There’s considerable variability in how biologics affect the immune system and subsequent vaccine potency. Timing is important, and although live vaccines are generally a no-go, there’s one class of biologics with which they’re safe, he said.

In a wide-ranging interview at IDWeek 2018, an annual scientific meeting on infectious diseases, Dr. Rubin shared his advice on immunizing the immunocompromised, including the other vaccines on the short list. He also tackled the common concern that vaccinations might trigger rejection in transplant patients.

He’s well qualified to address the issues: Dr. Rubin was lead author on the 2013 Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines on vaccinating immunocompromised patients.

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