Guidelines for immunizations in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Bruce E. Sands, Carmen Cuffari, Jeffry Katz, Subra Kugathasan, Jane Onken, Charles Vitek, Walter Orenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

210 Scopus citations


During the past 2 decades, medical therapy for Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) has grown to incorporate a variety of immune-suppressing agents. At the same time, basic insights into the aberrant mucosal immune response underlying inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have expanded dramatically. The interplay of host susceptibility to infection and the safety and efficacy of immunization for vaccine-preventable diseases has been explored in other immune-mediated disease states but only rarely in IBD. The purpose of this review is to formulate best-practice recommendations for immunization in children and adults with IBD by considering the effects of the IBD disease state and its treatments on both the safety and efficacy of immunization. To do so, we first considered the routine recommendations for immunization of children, adults and distinct populations at increased risk for vaccine-preventable disease. Because it was rarely possible to examine direct data on safety and efficacy of immunization in IBD populations, we relied to a large extent upon extrapolation from similar populations and from knowledge of basic mechanisms. The literature suggests that efficacy of immunization may be diminished in some patients whose immune status is compromised by immune suppression. However, except for live agent vaccines, most immunizations may be safely administered to patients with IBD even when immune compromised. Conversely, protection against vaccine-preventable illness may be of even greater benefit to those at risk for morbid or lethal complications of infections because of an immune compromised state. We conclude that for most patients with IBD, recommendations for immunization do not deviate from recommended schedules for the general population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-692
Number of pages16
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Crohn's disease
  • Immune suppression
  • Immunization
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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