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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 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.

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.

What if I have already had a booster vaccination?

If you have already had a booster then this is classed as your third primary vaccination.  It is expected those who have had third primary vaccinations will be eligible for a booster in six months as part of the vaccination programme.  Further information will become available in the future.

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 six months 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 around six months 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 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.

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Visiting update

To protect our patients, staff, visitors and the community, we are again restricting visitors to all our hospitals sites so please read our latest guidance for full details before coming to our hospitals.

The decision to restrict visitors during this time has been very difficult and made only after careful consideration as we witness wider social restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in light of the highly transmissible OMICRON variant.  The guidance will be reviewed regularly.