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“People living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have an increased risk for influenza infection and influenza-related illness,” as Inès Colmegna, MD, told attendees at the American College of Rheumatology annual scientific meeting in Chicago this month. Consequently, she argued, “there is a high priority to develop new approaches to decrease this risk.”
A scientist in the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program (IDIGH) at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Dr. Colmegna presented promising study results to an audience drawn from some 16,000 clinicians, researchers and other conference attendees. Data showed that the use of a high-dose trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine significantly improved immune response among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, compared with the standard-dose quadrivalent inactivated vaccine.
“This is the first ever study directly comparing standard influenza vaccine to high-dose vaccine in RA,” said Sasha Bernatsky, MD, PhD, a colleague from the IDIGH Program, “and it is going to change practices and improve outcomes for RA.”
Dr. Colmegna emphasized the scope of collaborations involved. “This was a project in which every physician from the Division of Rheumatology at McGill University actively participated, and it is a result of that team effort. Dr. Brian Ward, a Canadian expert in influenza vaccines, had a fundamental role, as did the nurses from the MUHC Vaccine Study Centre.” Dr. Ward is a member of the IDIGH Program and of the Division of Infectious Diseases at McGill University.
The study was funded by the Arthritis Society.