Lack of Association between COVID-19 Vaccination and Autoimmune Rheumatic Disease Flares

January 4, 2023

Some patients with an autoimmune rheumatic disease (AIRD) are hesitant about taking COVID-19 vaccines. This hesitancy is partly driven by the possibility of vaccine-induced disease flares, self-reported by some AIRD patients following vaccination. However, whether AIRD flares were associated with the vaccination or just happened by chance around the time following vaccination is not clear.

In a new study from the UK, researchers asked whether vaccination against COVID-19 is associated with AIRD flare. They extracted the patients’ data from Clinical Practice Research Datalink and analyzed the impact of COVID-19 vaccination on 3554 cases. They specifically looked at whether the incidence of flares increased 21 days after immunization (for first, second or third doses of the vaccine).

Based on the analysis, the scientists didn’t find an association between vaccination against COVID-19 and increased AIRD flares. AIRD type, vaccine type (Astra Zeneca or Pfizer – BioNTech), or prior exposure to COVID-19 also had no influence on AIRD flares following COVID-19 vaccination.

The authors discuss other studies regarding AIRD flares and COVID-19 vaccines, with some pointing to an increased possibility of flares. However, those studies often used different data types (e.g., self-reported) or different types of analyses. The authors point out that the data they used for their analysis is reliable since it was collected by NHS Digital, which added strength to their research.