There are major causes of the reduced willingness of vaccination among patients with Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other musculoskeletal diseases. There is a scarcity of data regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, and people with lupus are largely excluded from vaccine trials. There is also concern regarding the tolerance of the vaccine, increased risk of flares, and interaction between lupus medications and the vaccine.
The American College of Rheumatology recommends the COVID-19 vaccination for people with lupus, except those with a known allergy to a vaccine component or a life-threatening illness. This recommendation is based on the first-ever large-scale study conducted, known as the International Vaccination Against COVID in Systemic Lupus (VACOLUP) study. Researchers found that the COVID-19 vaccine is largely well-tolerated by people with lupus.
The study included 696 participants with lupus across 30 different countries. Researchers assessed the occurrence of flares and side effects. 50% of people reported some side effects. Of these, the majority (83%) reported minor or moderate symptoms that did not interfere with daily tasks. 21 people of the 693 participants reported a medically confirmed lupus flare about three days after vaccination.
Generally, lupus medications will not affect how the COVID-19 vaccine works. In some cases, your doctor may have special instructions so you can get the greatest possible benefit from the vaccine, particularly if you are taking a powerful immunosuppressant drug.
Consult with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about the vaccine, and how the vaccine fits into your treatment plan. You and your doctor should decide together if the vaccine is right for you and, if so, which version is most beneficial.