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Updated June 16, 2021.

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has updated its recommendations to remove a specific age range for offering the COVID-19 vaccination to children with pediatric rheumatic disease (PRD).

"When available, COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to children with PRD in accordance with FDA, CDC, and local recommendations for distribution.”

You can review this update at this link under the header, “Recommendations.”

As of now, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines result in increased risk to patients with autoimmune diseases. Patients 16 and older should consider vaccinations at the earliest date of eligibility. ACR further recommends that patients consider delaying (or advancing) the use of certain medications from the date of the vaccination as an additional precaution. Please review the medication chart provided by ACR here.

ACR notes that this information is subject to change as more data becomes available and that this guidance is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with your physician.

We have 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.

Please note that this information is based on what we know now, so please check-in daily with reputable sources such as the CDCyour state and local public health agencies, and your healthcare provider. We will update you as soon as more relevant information becomes available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Which vaccines are approved?

A. Currently, the FDA has authorized three COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in the United States: The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine.(1) Pfizer-BioNTach and Moderna are currently seeking full authorization for their respective vaccines. Vaccine approval and guidance in other countries may vary; please consult your local health authority for more information.

Q. Are the vaccines approved for use in children?

A. In the Uinited States, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is authorized and recommended for people 12 years of age and older, the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is authorized and recommended for people 18 years of age and older, and the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine is authorized and recommended for people 18 years of age and older.(2) Clinical trials are underway to test the vaccines in younger children, with possible emergency use authorization by early fall.(3)

Q. What is Emergency Use Authorization?

A. An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) accelerates the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to receiving their respective EUAs, the above vaccines were rigorously tested in clinical trials involving tens of thousands of study participants to generate the scientific data needed by the FDA to determine safety and effectiveness. These clinical trials were conducted according to the rigorous standards set forth by the FDA.(4)

Q. Do any of the COVID-19 vaccines used in the U.S. contain live virus?

A. None of the vaccines authorized for use in the United States contain a live virus. (5)

Q. Can I get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

A. No. Because none of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.(6)

Q. When and where can I get the vaccine?

A. In the United States, COVID-19 vaccine doses are allocated to jurisdictions (generally states and U.S. territories) based on the number of people 18 years or older in the jurisdiction in proportion to the entire U.S. population. The state or territorial government then determines how to distribute the vaccine.

In most states, the vaccines are then administered through Health Departments, Hospitals and Retail Pharmacies.(7)

You can find a vaccination location near you at www.vaccines.gov

Q. How much does it cost to receive a COVID-19 vaccination?

A. In the United States, the federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States, regardless of their immigration or health insurance status.(8)

Q. Is the vaccine safe for those with autoimmune conditions?

A. According to the CDC, those with weakened immune systems may receive a COVID-19 vaccine provided they have not had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine. However, they should be aware of the limited safety data.(9)

Please consult with your healthcare provider about what is right for your family.

Q. Do my treatments increase the risk of worse disease?

A. Most of the drugs used in rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (of which Juvenile Myositis is a part of) have not been associated with worse disease. To date, the only treatments that have been shown to be associated with a worse COVID-19 outcome are using more than 10 mg glucocorticoids daily or being treated with rituximab. (10)

Again, please consult with your healthcare provider about questions that you have about the vaccine and your individual medication and treatment history.

Q. What about side effects?

A. Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines since they were authorized for emergency use by the FDA. Results from vaccine safety monitoring efforts are reassuring. Some people have no side effects. Others have reported common vaccination side effects like swelling, redness, and pain at injection site, fever, headache, tiredness, muscle pain, chills, and nausea. A very small number of people have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) after vaccination. If this occurs, vaccination providers have medicines available to effectively and immediately treat the reaction. After receiving the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine, there is risk for a rare but serious adverse event — thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS. This adverse event only occurs at a rate of about 7 per 1 million vaccinated women between 18 and 49 years old. For women 50 years and older and men of all ages, this adverse event is even more rare.There are other COVID-19 vaccines available for which this risk has not been seen.(11)

Q. After I have received the vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask and go back to my normal activities?

A. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.However, if you have a condition or are taking medications that weaken your immune system, you may NOT be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated.(12) Talk to your healthcare provider.

Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking precautions, including:

  • Wearing a mask when in public spaces
  • Staying 6 feet away from people you do not live with
  • Avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces
  • Washing your hands often
  • Monitoring your health daily and staying in touch with your healthcare team.(13)

You should also continue to pay attention to your mental and emotional health.

Q. If I have already had COVID-19 (the illness), will I need the vaccine?

A. According to the CDC, early evidence suggests that natural immunity (the immunity that someone gains from having an illness and getting better) may not last very long in the case of COVID-19. More studies are underway in an effort to understand this better.

In general, you should get the vaccine even if you have already had COVID-19. However, you may need to wait for some time after recovering from the virus before taking the vaccine. Please talk to your doctor about when you should get the vaccine if you have already had COVID-19. (14)

Q. Can you tell me more about the new vaccines and their effectiveness and safety?

A. Dr. Rohit Aggarwal, Chair of the Medical Advisory Board of The Myositis Association, has an excellent, two-part video series on the COVID-19 vaccine in autoimmune disease: Part 1, Part 2.


References

  1. www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-vaccines
  2. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html
  3. www.healthline.com/health-news/when-will-covid-19-vaccines-be-available-to-children-under-12#Details-on-the-clinical-trials
  4. www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines/emergency-use-authorization-vaccines-explained
  5. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html
  6. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html
  7. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/distributing.html
  8. www.vaccines.gov
  9. www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/ recommendations/ underlying-conditions.html
  10. www.eular.org/eular_ sars_ cov_2_ vaccination_rmd_patients.cfm
  11. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/safety-of-vaccines.html
  12. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html
  13. www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
  14. www.lupus.org/ resources/covid19-vaccine-and-lupus

Disclaimer:  Cure JM Foundation presents this information for reference purposes only and not as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider and your local health authorities to make individual decisions.