Rheumatic Flares Uncommon Following COVID Vaccination

August 6, 2021

A recent study published by Arthritis & Rheumatology evaluated disease flares and post-vaccination reactions in patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMD) following two doses of an mRNA vaccine. The most common diseases amongst patients in the study were inflammatory arthritis (47%), systemic lupus erythematosus (20%), and mixed connective tissue disease (20%). Types of inflammatory arthritis include ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis

Of the 1,377 participants given two doses of the vaccine, 11% reported flares that required treatment. There were no reports of severe flares. Moreover, no participant required intravenous therapy or hospitalization.

Factors associated with flares requiring treatment included a previous COVID-19 diagnosis, history of a flare 6 months before the first dose of the vaccine, and the use of combination immunomodulatory therapy. 

Post-vaccination reactions commonly reported included pain at the injection site and fatigue. Reactions were heightened after the second dose with systemic reactions such as headache, myalgia, fatigue, and chills. It should be noted that none of the patients reported cases of anaphylaxis or a newly diagnosed SARS-CoV-2 infection during the study period.