Update on Vaccinating the Patient With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Coukos J1, Farraye FA2. Curr Treat Options Gastroenterol. 2018 Oct 6. doi: 10.1007/s11938-018-0200-4. [Epub ahead of print]

Author information

1 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.

2 Section of Gastroenterology, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, 85 East Concord Street, Boston, MA, 02118, USA. francis.farraye@bmc.org.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at increased risk of infectious diseases independent of their immunosuppression status, and yet, studies suggest that this population is not receiving standard vaccinations at the same rate as the general population. This review seeks to understand why IBD patients may not be receiving recommended immunizations and to provide guidelines on vaccinating this vulnerable population.

RECENT FINDINGS: Inactive vaccines are recommended for patients with IBD regardless of immunosuppression status due to the increased risk for many vaccine-preventable illnesses. Certain live vaccines can be administered to the immunocompromised patient with IBD. Additionally, many patients with IBD will be immunosuppressed some time in their disease course, further increasing their risk for infection. Despite this understanding, patients with IBD have poor vaccination rates. Inadequate knowledge, limited time with patients, and lack of consensus as to who is responsible for identifying and administering vaccinations are some of the most important barriers to vaccinating the patient with IBD. In this review, we discuss guidelines for vaccinating both the immunocompetent and immunosuppressed patient with IBD as well as provide vaccine-specific recommendations. The evidence suggests that patients with IBD are not receiving recommended vaccinations because of misconceptions on the part of patients as well as a paucity of knowledge by their health care team. Educational programs can be successfully implemented to increase knowledge about appropriate vaccinations and can ultimately increase vaccine uptake among patients with IBD. In the end, gastroenterologists and primary care physicians must work together with their patients with IBD to ensure that recommended vaccinations are administered.

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