Both lupus and the medications doctors prescribe to treat it can weaken the immune system. Vaccines can help protect people with weakened immune systems.

Lupus is an autoimmune condition that can affect a person’s immune system and make them more susceptible to other illnesses.

Vaccines can help a person’s immune system fight certain diseases. Some vaccines contain a live virus, while others do not.

Vaccines without a live virus are safest for people with lupus.

A person can receive a vaccine in several ways:

  • via injection
  • orally
  • nasally

Read on to learn more about the safety of vaccines for people with lupus and how to get them.

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Lupus can weaken a person’s immune system, making them more likely to get sick. Additionally, people with lupus are more likely to develop serious health issues when they get sick.

The medications people take for lupus, known as immunosuppressants, help reduce symptoms, progression of the condition, and organ damage. However, they can also make people more susceptible to infections.

Vaccines can help protect a person who has lupus from becoming seriously ill.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), vaccines that do not contain a live virus are safe for people with lupus.

Various types of vaccines exist, including:

  • live-attenuated vaccines, which use a weakened form of a germ
  • inactive vaccines, which contain dead germs
  • subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines, which use a specific part of a germ
  • toxoid vaccines, which use a toxin that a germ produces
  • mRNA vaccines, which provide a person’s cells with information on how to make a protein of the germ
  • viral vector vaccines, which give cells instructions on how to make a protein of the germ via a harmless virus

Live-attenuated vaccines do not contain enough of the virus to make a person sick. However, the small amount of virus these vaccines contain may replicate in people with weakened immune systems.

Vaccines go through extensive clinical trials to ensure they are safe and effective.

However, they can cause certain side effects, such as:

It is uncommon for vaccines to cause a flare of lupus symptoms. However, some people do experience a flare after getting a vaccine.

For many, the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risk of possible side effects. However, it is important for each individual to learn about the risks and how vaccines may affect any underlying health conditions. Speaking with a healthcare professional can help a person make an informed decision.

According to the CDC, people with lupus may not respond well to live-attenuated vaccines. However, some people with lupus experience no issues with these vaccines.

A person with lupus should consult a rheumatologist or another doctor with expertise in lupus before getting a live-attenuated vaccine.

Other vaccines a person with lupus may need to avoid include:

There is little evidence to suggest that vaccines are not effective for people with lupus.

In a 2021 study, researchers looked at the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine in people with lupus. They found that almost 30% of participants with lupus had low immune responses to the vaccine, likely due to taking medications for lupus.

However, because this study was relatively small, further research is necessary to fully understand the effects of the vaccine on people with lupus.

There is no evidence that other vaccines produce low immune responses in people with lupus.

Vaccines work by strengthening the immune system. They do this by helping the immune system recognize the virus in the vaccine.

This means that if a person contracts the same virus again, their immune system will be able to respond faster and more effectively.

People may be able to receive vaccines from primary healthcare professionals, pharmacies, health centers, health departments, or travel clinics.

The United States government also has a helpful tool that allows people to find nearby vaccination centers.

Before getting any vaccine, a person with lupus should discuss it with a doctor who has expertise in lupus. Certain vaccines may not be safe for people with lupus.

Lupus can weaken a person’s immune system. Vaccines are an important way for people with lupus to bolster their immune systems.

Many vaccines are safe for people who have lupus. However, vaccines that contain live viruses may not be safe for them. People who have lupus should speak with a doctor before getting any vaccine.

Although this is uncommon, some vaccines may cause a flare of lupus symptoms. However, the benefits of a vaccine outweigh the possible risks of a flare.