As flu season is upon is, it is a great time to think about infection prevention. The annual flu shot is highly recommended to all patients on biologic therapy. It is not a live vaccine and therefore is safe to be given while on treatment. The ideal time for maximum vaccine effectiveness is to receive your flu shot between your biologic doses, or for those who receive an infusion every eight weeks, two weeks prior to your next dose. If you have not already received your pneumonia vaccine, this is also highly suggested and can be given while on biologic treatment. Prevnar 13 is given first, followed by Pneumovax eight weeks or more later. This will offer several years of protection against pneumonia. The shingles vaccine (Zostavax) is now available through public health at your family physician’s office for Ontario residents age 65-70. Those turning 71 anytime in 2016 can have their vaccine at no charge until the end of December 2016. As this is a live vaccine, be sure to check on the best timing to have this administered in regards to biologic/immunosuppressive treatment.
Regular hand washing is the best defence against infection. Be sure to wash regularly, especially after being in public places and always before eating. We encourage all patients to wash their hands when entering our infusion clinics and before giving a self-injection at home.
We have prepared an information sheet on infection prevention which is available at all our clinics. Please ask your local staff for a copy.
Please don’t hesitate to ask our pharmacists for more information on vaccination or maintaining your health while using biologic therapy.