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Covid vax safe for patients with rheumatic, lupus disease

mRNA Covid-19 vaccination is safe for patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases — such as inflammatory arthritis and lupus — and flares of their conditions were uncommon after two doses, according to a study.

The study, published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology, examined 1,377 patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

About 11 per cent of patients reported flares after vaccination that required treatment, and there were no reports of severe flares.

Flares were associated with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection, flares in the six months preceding vaccination, and use of combination immunomodulatory therapy. These early safety data can help address vaccine hesitancy in patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

“Our findings demonstrate that the vaccines are safe and should alleviate the safety concerns of any hesitant patients,” said first author Caoilfhionn Connolly, of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine.

“This study highlights that most of our rheumatic patients tolerated the vaccine well with mostly having local reactions such as injection site pain, which was quite reassuring, but most importantly, we did not observe any severe flares of their underlying autoimmune disease,” added Julie J Paik, from the varsity.

The American College of Rheumatology also recommends Covid vaccination for people with lupus and other rheumatic diseases, except for patients with a known allergy to a vaccine component or life-threatening illness (currently resulting in intensive care).

A recent study published in the Lancet journal found that Covid vaccine is largely well tolerated in people with lupus.

Just 3 per cent of participants (21 people out of 693) reported a medically confirmed lupus flare roughly 3 days after vaccination. In most cases (71 per cent), this resulted in a change in lupus treatment, and four of the 21 people were hospitalised due to the flare up.

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