IDSA issues new vaccine guideline for immunocompromised patients

The Infectious Diseases Society of America issued a new guideline on Thursday to recommend that individuals with compromised immune systems get the flu shot and other vaccinations.

Despite their vulnerability to illness, individuals with HIV infection, cancer, Crohn's disease and other immune system-compromising conditions tend to have lower vaccination rates. The rates are lower in part because their doctors may be concerned about vaccine effectiveness and safety.

The IDSA wrote the new guideline, which was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, to fill a void in comprehensive recommendations for vaccinations of many different types of patients who are immunocompromised. The guideline may be helpful for primary care physicians and specialists who treat immunocompromised patients and for people who live with immunocompromised patients.

"The guideline provides 'one-stop shopping' for clinicians caring for children and adults with compromised immune systems and includes recommendations and evidence for most vaccinations, from influenza to chicken pox," Lorry Rubin, the lead author of the guideline, said. "Previously, the recommendations were difficult to retrieve because in most cases information had to be accessed individually by vaccine rather than by the category of patient disease."

The guideline includes recommendations for most available vaccines, including measles, mumps and rubella, hepatitis A, pneumococcus, herpes zoster and influenza. The guideline recommends that most patients six months and older should get the annual flu shot, but they should not receive the nasally-administered live-attenuated vaccine. The guideline says that patients receiving intensive chemotherapy or who received anti-B-cell antibodies in the last six months are not likely to benefit from the flu vaccine.