The COVID-19 pandemic has severely influenced all aspects of life in 2020. This pandemic also affected patients with Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) and impacted the care given to them. With the development of vaccines, the future is becoming brighter. The possibility of vaccination however also raises a lot of questions, especially for patients with inflammatory RMDs and patients that are treated with drugs that may influence their immune system. To address these questions EULAR has formed a Task Force of representatives of its constituents, patients, health professionals and rheumatologists experienced in the field which addressed pertinent aspects.
This information is based on knowledge available at this moment in time, realizing that specific data about the performance of the emerging vaccines to COVID in patients with RMDs and in patients treated with drugs that influence the immune system are not yet available. In the coming months we expect that more relevant information will be collected. When you read this information, please realize that this text will need to be updated when new information becomes available.
In general, several different kinds of vaccines are being used in national vaccination programs. All vaccines that are presently under development specifically for COVID-19 are non-live vaccines, that cannot give you the viral disease, that cannot transfer infection to you, nor can they change your genetic information. These vaccines can be used safely in patients with RMDs as well as in patients receiving drugs that influence the immune system. Other non-live vaccines have been proven to work for immune-suppressed patients. To say it more strongly, there is no reason to withhold these vaccines from patients with RMDs and patients treated with drugs that influence the immune system.
The following different SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are presently in a more advanced stage of development. Vaccines based on mRNA [such as those from Pfizer/BioNTech and from Moderna], on adjuvant proteins [such as from Novavax] and on non-replicable vectors [such as from AstraZeneca and from Janssen].