Painkillers can reduce vaccine effectiveness

Vaccinations could have reduced effectiveness if patients are taking NSAIDs, say US researchers.

NSAIDs inhibit COX-2, which is produced by B cells. As well as easing pain, blocking COX-2 hinders B-cell production of neutralising antibodies after vaccination.   

This could mean that the immune system fails to mount a sufficient response against the anti- gen to protect against future infection, claim the researchers.  

The theory is based on studies into a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) 16. Mouse studies showed that animals engineered to lack COX-2 produced 10-fold fewer neutralising antibodies after vaccination than control mice.  

Preserved blood samples from clinical trial volunteers vaccinated against HPV-16 were also tested. When the B cells were reactivated they produced fewer antibodies to HPV 16 after treatment with a COX-2 inhibitor.  

The findings could apply to other vaccines and could be a concern in elderly people receiving annual flu vaccines, say the researchers.  

Dr Nigel Higson, a Brighton GP with an interest in virology, said that, although the link was theoretical, GPs should delay vaccinations if patients were taking a short course of NSAIDs.  

‘This study demonstrates a concern. We should only vaccinate when the patient is well,’ he said.  

Berkshire GP and RCGP immunisation spokesman Dr George Kassianos said more research was needed to see whether all vaccines were affected.  

‘If it relates to other vaccines, including the influenza vaccine, the effect should be small,’ he said. ‘For some time now we have been decreasing prescribing of COX-2 inhibitors in view of their reported cardiac adverse effects. 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

UK COVID-19 vaccination programme tracker

GPs across the UK are playing a leading role in the largest-ever NHS vaccination...

GP-led sites behind almost three quarters of COVID-19 jabs in England

GP-led sites behind almost three quarters of COVID-19 jabs in England

GP-led vaccination sites have delivered nearly three quarters of COVID-19 vaccine...

GPs should ignore calls to throw away usable COVID-19 vaccine, says RCGP

GPs should ignore calls to throw away usable COVID-19 vaccine, says RCGP

Suggestions that vaccination sites should throw away usable doses of COVID-19 vaccine...

GPs urged to use influence to dispel COVID-19 vaccine myths and boost BAME uptake

GPs urged to use influence to dispel COVID-19 vaccine myths and boost BAME uptake

GPs have been encouraged to use their ‘huge influence’ to bust misinformation around...

Six in 10 over-80s vaccinated against COVID-19 as figures expose regional variation

Six in 10 over-80s vaccinated against COVID-19 as figures expose regional variation

Six in 10 people aged over 80 in England received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine...

Summary of changes to the GP contract 2021/22

Summary of changes to the GP contract 2021/22

The BMA and NHS England have agreed minor changes to the GP contract for 2021/22....