Other questions about juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) medications

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

You may still have other questions about JIA medications. This section will answer some of the questions you may have. Talk to your doctor for more information.

What about vaccinations?

We need vaccines to help prevent infections. JIA itself does not cause problems with the vaccines. However, JIA medications can reduce the protection you get from vaccines. Some JIA medications can limit the type of vaccine that you can safely receive. It may be risky to take certain vaccines.

There are two different types of vaccines: inactivated vaccines and live vaccines. The live vaccines should not be given when you are on certain types of medications.

Drugs that are safe with ALL vaccines

NSAIDs, sulfasalazine, and hydroxychloroquine do not change your immune system. ALL ROUTINE VACCINES ARE SAFE.

Drugs that are safe with SOME vaccines

Corticosteroids, methotrexate, leflunomide, cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, cyclosporine and biologics DO change your immune system.


  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
  • Inactivated polio
  • Pneumococcus (Prevnar or Pneumovax)
  • Meningococcus (Menjugate, Menjutec, Menactra)
  • Hemophilus influenza type B
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine (injection)
  • Hepatitis B vaccine and hepatitis A vaccine
  • Gardasil: the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV).

THE FOLLOWING ARE LIVE VACCINES. They are considered UNSAFE with these drugs. THESE VACCINES SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN until you have stopped these medications for at least one to two months:

  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Oral polio vaccine
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine given as a spray into your nose
  • BCG (the vaccine for tuberculosis)
  • Yellow fever.

If you have any questions about the safety of a vaccine, ask your doctor or nurse.

What about complementary and alternative medicine?

Complementary and alternative medicines are therapies that are not prescribed by your regular health-care team. These include prayer, meditation, therapeutic touch, acupuncture, vitamins, minerals, supplements, or naturopathic or homeopathic therapies. There are many reasons why some people use complementary and alternative medicine.

The therapies prescribed by your regular health-care team are called conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine. Alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine.

Important safety points for complementary and alternative medicine

  • Talk to your doctor about any complementary or alternative medicines that you are considering. These can interact with JIA medications. They can affect how your body responds to your medications. They may lead to more side effects.
  • Remember that the label may not reflect what is in the bottle. Some of these treatments have ingredients not listed on the label. They may have much more or much less of the featured ingredient than their label states.
  • Even though they may be “natural,” these treatments can have side effects too.
  • The claims for many of these treatments can be attractive. They can claim to help improve, or even cure, JIA. They can promise to make you feel better. Much of the information about these treatments is based on personal stories from patients or alternative health care providers. Although some of these treatments may help, many have not been scientifically studied.
  • Check with your doctor to make sure these treatments do not interact with your medication. In many cases, your doctor cannot say for sure that there will be no interaction. Many of these treatments have never been studied.
  • Do not stop your prescribed medications. Instead, use these other treatments in addition to your regular medicines. Be sure your doctors or nurses know what you are taking.
  • Some of these treatments may ask you to restrict certain foods in your diet. Make sure you are not cutting out nutrients your body needs. You still need many nutrients to grow and develop properly. For example, if you are reducing dairy products, you still need the calcium for healthy growing bones and teeth.
Last updated: January 31st 2017