A survey conducted by the ACR in April 2008 found a knowledge gap related to rheumatologists’ understanding of vaccines, Dr. Bingham said. For example, only 40% of those surveyed realized that yellow fever was a live vaccine; only 39% identified human papillomavirius (HPV) as an inactive vaccine.
In addition to any vaccine misunderstandings or a fear that they will worsen diseases, Dr. Bingham believes that a lack of familiarity with vaccine recommendations and a lack of communication between rheumatologists and primary care physicians also contribute to underutilization of vaccines in patients with autoimmune disease.
Although some reports in the literature have addressed a possible association between vaccinations and worsening disease, the incident rate is quite low, Dr. Bingham said. “The risk–benefit assessment shows the benefit of immunization,” he said.