( dpa ) - Rheumatism sufferers should ensure they have vaccinal immune protection, the Wiesbaden-based Association of German Internists (BDI) advised.
It warned that drugs used to treat rheumatism suppressed the immune system and therefore increased patients' risk of infections.
In particular, the group recommended inoculations against influenza and pneumococci, as well as against tetanus and diphtheria. Caution was advised regarding live vaccines, however. They contain weakened pathogens and can be dangerous to patients whose immune systems have been compromised.
But the BDI noted that all standard inoculations nowadays used inactivated vaccines.
Complete vaccinal immune protection is not always possible during treatment with some drugs, the BDI's Edmund Edelmann pointed out. Before treatment with certain medications in the class called biologics, he said, patients should check the status of their immune protection and update it if needed.
Edelmann also strongly recommended inoculations before a journey, for example against hepatitis A and B, polio and typhoid fever. He said rheumatism patients should not travel to tropical countries where a yellow fever inoculation is required because the live vaccine used could have major side effects.