By: Gurjot Basra, Praveen Jajoria, and Emilio Gonzalez
Published: 03 Jul 2012


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common chronic inflammatory joint disease. Multiple scientific articles have documented that vaccinations for influenza, MMR, and HBV, to name a few, could be triggers of RA in genetically predisposed individuals. However, there is limited data regarding the association of swine flu vaccine (H1N1) and RA. We report the case of a Mexican American female who developed RA right after vaccination with H1N1 vaccine. Genetically, RA has consistently been associated with an epitope in the third hypervariable region of the HLA-DR  chains, known as the “shared epitope”, which is found primarily in DR4 and DR1 regions. The presence of HLA-DRB1 alleles is associated with susceptibility to RA in Mexican Americans. Hence, certain individuals with the presence of the “shared epitope” may develop RA following specific vaccinations. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of RA following vaccination with the swine flu vaccine.