Covid-19 vaccines appear to be safe for people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases and are likely to trigger flares – a sudden worsening of symptoms – in less than 5% of cases, researchers have found.
The findings were based on data from 5,121 patients in 30 countries. Severe flares occurred in fewer than 1% of patients after vaccination, they found.
Overall, flares were more likely to occur in patients with active disease, according to a report published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
“However, it is important to note that flares can occur as part of the…disease, and the observed percentages of flare would be compatible with the natural history of the disease rather than necessarily caused by vaccines against SARS-CoV-2,” said Dr. Pedro Machado of University College London.
The average study participant was 72 years old, and most were women.
Many had inflammatory joint diseases, connective tissue diseases or vasculitis and were receiving various combinations of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, immunosuppressants, and other medications.
Most had received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (70%), followed by shots from AstraZeneca (17%) and Moderna (8%).
“Our findings should provide reassurance to rheumatologists, other health professionals and vaccine recipients, and promote confidence in the safety of COVID-19 vaccination in people with inflammatory rheumatic diseases,” Dr. Machado said.