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Vaccinations

There are some vaccinations that people with coeliac disease may need to have.

Pneumococcal vaccine

Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by a bacterium that usually lives harmlessly at the back of many people’s throats. However, it can invade other parts of the body and cause serious, possibly life threatening illnesses including pneumonia, septicaemia or meningitis.

The Department of Health recommends the following people receive a vaccination for pneumococcal disease:

  • infants
  • people aged 65 and over
  • people aged between two and 65 years of age who are at higher risk from pneumococcal disease, including individuals with a damaged or absent spleen
  • children and adults with certain long term health conditions such as serious heart, liver and kidney conditions, and diabetes.

Some people with coeliac disease are ‘hyposplenic’ (meaning they have a spleen which does not function very well). This potentially puts them at risk of pneumococcal infections. Those people who are known to be hyposplenic should receive the pneumococcal vaccine and also vaccines against meningitis C and flu.

The Department of Health has not made a universal recommendation to vaccinate everyone with coeliac disease, but rather recommends that clinical assessments are made on an individual basis.

However, based on advice from our Health Advisory Council, we recommend that everyone with coeliac disease is vaccinated against pneumococcal infection and has a booster every five years, as there is a potential for people with coeliac disease to develop overwhelming pneumococcal sepsis due to hyposplenism.

Since 2006, all infants receive vaccination against pneumococcal infection as part of the routine childhood immunisation programme.

Flu

If you have coeliac disease, vaccination against seasonal flu needs to be considered on an individual basis. If you are concerned about flu, speak to your GP.

It is recommended that pregnant women are offered the seasonal flu vaccination.

Meningococcal A,C,W,Y

In 2014, the meningococcal C vaccine, given to adolescents, was replaced by combined Meningococcal A,C,W,Y and introduced to the childhood immunisation programme. Our Health Advisory Council advises anyone born between 1995 and 2014 to speak with their GP about having the A,C,W,Y vaccination given retrospectively.

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