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Rheumatology - Coronavirus vaccine

Can I have the coronavirus vaccine?

The vaccines currently available from Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford AstraZeneca are not live vaccines.  This means they are safe for people who are on medicines to suppress the immune system.

If you have been offered the vaccine, then we encourage you to receive it.

Please see the versus arthritis website using the links below which answers many questions you may have regarding your medication and the coronavirus vaccine.

Am I eligible for a 3rd primary or booster (4th) coronavirus vaccine?

In September 2021 the government vaccination committee advised those who are immunosuppressed would be eligible for a third primary vaccine. The majority of eligible patients will have received a letter via the hospital or GP.

If you have not had a letter and think you are eligible please contact the advice line:

York and Selby - 01904 721854
Scarborough, Malton and Bridlington - 01723 385058

so we can check eligibility and send a letter enabling those eligible to get a third primary vaccination.

Please note: eligibility is based on your circumstances at the time of your 1st and 2nd vaccines.

The medications that are eligible are:

  • Methotrexate tablet or injection
  • Leflunomide
  • Azathioprine
  • Mycophenolate
  • Prednisolone of more than 10mg for more than four weeks at the time or in the previous three months before the first or second vaccine or more than 20mg for ten days or more at the time or in the previous month before first and second vaccine.

Biologic medications

  • Etanercept (Benepali / Enbrel)
  • Adalimumab (Amgevita / Humira)
  • Golimumab (Simponi)
  • Certolizumab (Cimzia)
  • Infliximab (Remicade / Remsima
  • Rituximab (Mabthera / Truxima / Rixathon)
  • Tocilizumab (Roactemra)
  • Sarilumab (Kevzara)
  • Abatacept (Orencia)
  • Secukinumab (Cosentyx)
  • Ustekinumab (Stelara)
  • Ixekizumab (Taltz)
  • Tofacitinib (Xeljanz)
  • Baracitinib (Olumiant)
  • Upadacitinib (Rinvoq)
  • Filgotinib (Jyselca)
  • Apremilast (Otezla)

Please note Hydroxychloroquine and sulphasalazine are not classed as eligible DMARDS.

Is there a difference between a third primary vaccine and a booster?

There is no difference in the vaccine dose given.  A third primary vaccination was advised for those who are immunosuppressed as research suggests that they are less likely to have gained a good level of protection from the previous two vaccines. Booster vaccination is given a minimum of 12 weeks after the initial vaccinations to those who are likely to have had a good response but are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection.

It is expected those who have had a third primary vaccine will be invited for a booster in a minimum of 12 weeks as part of the national programme.

Can I have the flu and COVID vaccines at the same time?

Yes this has been shown to be safe and effective.

When should I get the vaccination?

If you have had the second COVID vaccine eight weeks ago or more you can have your third primary vaccine.

If you have recently been infected with COVID-19 you should wait 28 days from the date of the positive PCR test before having the vaccination.

Do I need to stop/delay my Rheumatology medication for the vaccination?

Do not stop immunosuppressive medication you are already taking as having a flare increases your risk of COVID-19.  You can have the vaccination whilst taking the medication.  Those that are due to start or switch medication may wish to delay starting medication until two weeks after the vaccination.

For those on Rituximab we advise you have the vaccination four weeks before or after treatment. If you are unsure about delaying rituximab treatment for vaccination then please contact the advice line to discuss.

How do I get the third primary/booster (4th) vaccination?
You will be unable to book on the national vaccination website. Local hubs (e.g Askham Bar in York) are taking walk in’s for third primary vaccinations if they have a letter of eligibility.  Those who had first and second vaccinations organised by your GP surgery should be able to contact the GP to have the third primary vaccination.

If you require a letter confirming your eligibility specifically from your medical team, please contact the Advice Line.

There has been no confirmation of any further vaccinations needed at the present time.

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