COVID-19 Vaccines Update

Updated August 21, 2021

The CDC recently recommended that severely immunocompromised people receive an additional dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC based this recommendation on recent studies that indicate some immunocompromised people don’t always build the same level of immunity after vaccination the way non-immunocompromised people do and may benefit from an additional dose to ensure adequate protection against COVID-19.

On August 19, 2021, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) updated its COVID-19 vaccine guidance for rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease patients to address this recommendation of a third dose. This guidance addresses Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines only since there is not yet relevant data on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. ACR recommends:

  • Patients that are 12-17 years of age that are receiving immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory therapy should receive a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
  • Patients that are 18 years of age and older and receiving immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory therapy should receive a third dose of the same vaccine that was received in their first two doses, whether Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech
  • Patients who received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccines should receive the third dose at least 28 days after their second dose
  • It is preferred that the third dose is the same brand as the previous two doses but if that's not possible, patients 18 years of age and older can choose a third dose of an alternative brand

As always, please consult with your physician regarding these recommendations.

ACR has specific recommendations on the timing of the third dose while taking specific medications. Please review those recommendations with your healthcare provider. You can find the list of medications on page four (Table 3) of ACR’s guidance.

COVID-19 Vaccinations for Families and Patients with Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM)

Updated July 27, 2021.

The Medical Advisory Board of the Cure JM Foundation met on July 16, 2021. One of the topics of discussion was COVID-19, including COVID-19 vaccines as they relate to JDM patients and their families.

The MAB strongly advocated for getting all members of the household and JDM patients vaccinated against COVID-19. The MAB highlighted a number of consensus documents and guidelines provided by:

The specific points that the MAB highlighted for JDM patients are:

  • There are no currently known contraindications to COVID-19 vaccinations for JDM patients.
  • The likelihood is that there will be a considerable length of time in extrapolating COVID-19 data from adult patients with autoimmune disease to pediatric JDM patients. Notwithstanding this, the consensus of opinion is that a COVID-19 vaccination will help protect JDM patients.
  • It is important that patients consult with their treating physician for any recommendations about stopping their current JDM medications around vaccinations, and not do this on their own.
  • There are a number of vaccines available, with the Pfizer vaccine currently having approval status for those 12-18 years of age. As more data is gathered, this age range may go down to those 5 years of age, possibly in the next few months, and additional vaccines may be approved for use in children.
  • There are a number of new variants of COVID-19 that are more infectious than the original strain. This point emphasizes the need for patients and their families to get fully vaccinated, to help mitigate against hospitalizations for unvaccinated patients and help slow the spread of new, more infectious variants.

The MAB also emphasized the need to follow the approved guidance on the use of the current vaccines. Where vaccines require two shots, it is important that the second shot not be missed.

We have also compiled a series of questions and answers from trusted sources to inform your choices about the COVID-19 vaccines. The following questions and answers are curated from trusted sources, including the Arthritis Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control, the European League Against Rheumatism, and the Lupus Foundation. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider regarding individual medical decisions.