People with fibromyalgia syndrome should not fear influenza vaccines and in fact should be encouraged to take a flu vaccination, a standard World Health Organization recommendation, according to findings in a recent study entitled “Influenza vaccination is safe and effective in patients suffering from fibromyalgia syndrome” and published in the journal Reumatismo.
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is thought to result from the exposure of a genetically susceptible individual to various stimuli, such as physical trauma, stress, and viral infections. The potential role of vaccination in causing or exacerbating FMS has already been questioned. The present study evaluated the efficacy and safety of influenza vaccination in 19 FMS patients and 38 healthy individuals, who underwent physical and dolorimetric examinations and answered the fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ), the widespread pain index (WPI) checklist, and the symptoms severity scale (SSS). These tests constitute part of the 2010 diagnostic criteria for FMS. All the individuals received flu vaccinations with the inactivated split virion influenza, after which researchers collected serum for further antibody titration to evaluate vaccination success.
The research team concluded that influenza vaccination was safe and effective in FMS patients, much as it found earlier for these vaccinations in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Even though there were some limitations in the trial, such as small number of participants, the authors still consider their findings relevant, given the exploratory nature of the study.
Futures research, the team advised, should address the association between the vaccination of healthy pain-free individuals and the potential development of FMS symptoms, an association not reported in the literature to date. Because in many countries influenza remains a major source public health concern, the findings were of relevance in assuring vaccination safety in particular groups of patients.
“Despite debate in the literature regarding the role of vaccinations in many connective tissue disorders, vaccinating FMS patients against influenza is both safe and effective,” the authors conclude in their study.