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Medication and assessing your risk of coronavirus

Should I continue with my medication?

You should continue your medication as normal. At the time of writing, there is NO conclusive evidence from across the world for our patients on biologics/immunosuppressants being worse affected by Covid-19. Though data is limited, this is reassuring, given how many patients are using these medications across the world. 

If you are unwell, you should stop your medication until you feel better unless you are on steroid medication. You should never stop steroid treatment unless a doctor tells you to. 

Can I stop or reduce the dose of my medication?

We do not recommend you change your medication dose without contacting us first. Your condition may worsen if you do and there might not be much difference in your infection risk.

What is my risk?

If you are taking drugs that reduce your immune system, then you may be at higher risk of infections. These drugs include:

Steroids such as prednisolone tablets
DMARD drugs such as methotrexate, azathioprine, mycophenolate, leflunomide; (please note sulphasalazine and hydroxychloroquine are not high risk medications and therefore are not seen as a risk)
Biologic drugs such as Amgevita, Benepali (etanercept), Rituximab, Tocilizumab, Secukinumab, Abatacept
Newer JAK-inhibitor drugs such as tofacitinib, baricitinib.

Co-morbidities can also put you at increased risk. Such as age > 70, diabetes, lung disease, high blood pressure.

If you have been assessed as very high risk  depending on a number of factors including medication taken and co-morbidities, you will likely have received a letter or text from either the rheumatology department, GP or NHS coronavirus service. You have been advised to shield.

Please click on this link for details

Assessing your risk: If you feel you may be at very high risk or are unsure of your risk then please see this flowchart.

If you are at very high risk but have not been contacted please contact the rheumatology department so we can send you the relevant government letter.

Information on social distancing for Rheumatology patients

Please look at the flowchart  to assess your potential risk of becoming unwell if you get coronavirus and then look at the term relevant to you.

To check you understand what we mean by certain terms:

Shielding - because you have high risk of serious illness if you get coronavirus is explained in the Government website

Strict social distancing - means minimising the number of people that you have contact with. See section 9 in the government linklearn more

Standard social distancing - means following the Government’s advice for the general population

 Return to rheumatology covid-19 response page

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Coronavirus - useful information

The latest health information about Coronavirus can be found at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.  Information about our local services can be found on this website here.

From Monday 15 June 2020, visitors and outpatients coming into our hospitals will be asked to wear a face covering at all times, to help us reduce the spread of Covid-19.  A face covering can be as simple as a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head.  It should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably.  For more information click here.

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