COVID Vaccination Did Not Lead to Severe Disease Flares in Rheumatic Disease Patients in New Study

November 2, 2021

New research demonstrating that the COVID-19 vaccine was not linked to severe flare-ups in patients with rheumatic diseases was presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting. The research also found a reduction in vaccine-induced antibody responses to be associated with rheumatic disease medications. Research trial participants included adults with seropositive rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on stable treatment for more than three months, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) on stable treatment with mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), patients with another rheumatic disease receiving greater than 10 mg of prednisone per day, and a control group of age and sex-matched adults without rheumatic diseases. Of the 220 participants enrolled in the study, 131 had RA, 23 had SLE, 8 had other rheumatic diseases, and 58 served as healthy controls.

Adverse events were reported more frequently following the second dose and included pain in the injection site most commonly. While swollen joints following both doses were reported by RA patients more frequently than the controls, there was no observed increase in disease activity following vaccination and no serious adverse events were attributable to vaccination. Regarding medications, it was discovered that most rheumatology patients in this study had good vaccine responses aside from RA patients on rituximab and SLE patients on MMF.