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Lupus. 2009 Nov;18(13):1213-6. doi: 10.1177/0961203309345734.

Vaccines as a trigger for myopathies.

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Department of Medicine B, Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, Israel.


Vaccines are considered to be among the greatest medical discoveries, credited with the virtual eradication of some diseases and the consequent improved survival and quality of life of the at-risk population. With that, vaccines are among the environmental factors implicated as triggers for the development of inflammatory myopathies. The sporadic reports on vaccine-induced inflammatory myopathies include cases of hepatitis B virus, bacillus Calmette-Guérin, tetanus, influenza, smallpox, polio, diphtheria, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, combination of diphtheria with scarlet fever and diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus with polio vaccines. However, a significant increase in the incidence of dermatomyositis or polymyositis after any massive vaccination campaign has not been reported in the literature. In study patients with inflammatory myopathies, no recent immunization was recorded in any of the patients. Moreover, after the 1976 mass flu vaccination, no increase in the incidence of inflammatory myopathies was observed. Although rare, macrophagic myofasciitis has been reported following vaccination and is attributed to the aluminium hydroxide used as an adjuvant in some vaccines. Prospective multicenter studies are needed to identify potential environmental factors, including vaccines, as potential triggers for inflammatory myopathies.

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