Background: We describe the early experiences of adults with systemic rheumatic disease who received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Methods: From 2 April to 30 April 2021, we conducted an online, international survey of adults with systemic rheumatic disease who received COVID-19 vaccination. We collected patient-reported data on clinician communication, beliefs and intent about discontinuing disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) around the time of vaccination, and patient-reported adverse events after vaccination.
Results: We analysed 2860 adults with systemic rheumatic diseases who received COVID-19 vaccination (mean age 55.3 years, 86.7% female, 86.3% white). Types of COVID-19 vaccines were Pfizer-BioNTech (53.2%), Oxford/AstraZeneca (22.6%), Moderna (21.3%), Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (1.7%) and others (1.2%). The most common rheumatic disease was rheumatoid arthritis (42.3%), and 81.2% of respondents were on a DMARD. The majority (81.9%) reported communicating with clinicians about vaccination. Most (66.9%) were willing to temporarily discontinue DMARDs to improve vaccine efficacy, although many (44.3%) were concerned about rheumatic disease flares. After vaccination, the most reported patient-reported adverse events were fatigue/somnolence (33.4%), headache (27.7%), muscle/joint pains (22.8%) and fever/chills (19.9%). Rheumatic disease flares that required medication changes occurred in 4.6%.
Conclusion: Among adults with systemic rheumatic disease who received COVID-19 vaccination, patient-reported adverse events were typical of those reported in the general population. Most patients were willing to temporarily discontinue DMARDs to improve vaccine efficacy. The relatively low frequency of rheumatic disease flare requiring medications was reassuring.
Keywords: COVID-19; autoimmune diseases; vaccination.
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.