How does arthritis affect how I respond to the flu?
People with certain types of arthritis, called inflammatory rheumatic disease or autoimmune rheumatic disease, have a higher risk of getting respiratory infections as well as flu-related complications, such as pneumonia.
Inflammatory arthritis affects the immune system which controls how well your body fights off infections. Also, many medications given to treat inflammatory arthritis can weaken the immune system. People with weakened immune systems are at high risk for getting more severe illness and complications such as pneumonia or hospitalization with the flu. Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are the most common types of inflammatory arthritis.
People with osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis, are likely not at increased risk of complications from the flu unless they also have other high-risk conditions for flu such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated every year.
Persons who have the following types of inflammatory arthritis or rheumatic disease or take certain medications may be at high risk for influenza and its complications. You should discuss your risk for complications from the flu with your healthcare provider.