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Fall 2021 Update: 7 Things We Now Know About COVID-19 Vaccines in Rheumatic Disease Patients

CreakyJoints reports on emerging data about COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness in rheumatic disease patients and features research presented at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 2021 annual meeting by HSS rheumatologists Kyriakos A. Kirou, MD, DSc, FACP, and Medha Barbhaiya, MD, MPH.

Dr. Kirou conducted a study about the on the COVID-19 vaccine response in people on B cell therapies. He explained, “Rituximab has been known to block complete antibody responses to COVID-19 vaccines when B cell numbers are undetected. However, when B cell numbers increase to normal levels, patients can respond better to the vaccines.”

“Patients on rituximab should discuss with their rheumatologist the timing of COVID-19 vaccination. If their disease is stable and allows some delay, waiting until the B cell number comes up, even to a small percentage, would be helpful to allow response to the vaccine,” he continued.

Additionally, in a study led by Dr. Barbhaiya, 2,384 patients completed a web-based vaccine hesitancy questionnaire on March 5, 2021 and 94 percent were willing to receive or had already received the COVID-19 vaccine. However, 88 patients (3.7 percent) were undecided and 56 patients (2.3 percent) reported vaccine refusal.

According to Dr. Barbhaiya, “Fear of flare-ups has been cited as a reason to not get the vaccine. It’s an understandable concern, of course, but the literature is in general very supportive of the fact that there’s a very low risk of flares.”

Read the full article at Creakyjoints.org.