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COVID Vaccine for Immunocompromised Patients and What Drugs to Stop

posted in All on February 13, 2021 by

Donald Thomas

The American College of Rheumatology Provides Guidance for stopping drugs to enhance the COVID vaccine for immunocompromised patients

Coronavirus vaccine for COVID-19 and lupus patients

COVID-19 vaccine: Please get yours!
Revised 9/6/21 with new drugs to stop for vaccines per revised ACR recommendations

How should we deal with immunosuppressants and the COVID vaccine for immunocompromised patients? In February 2021, the American College of Rheumatology released recommendations on what to do with immunosuppressant drugs around the time of your COVID-19 vaccine. The reason for these recommendations is that some of our medicines can blunt the effects of the vaccine. Timing the drug to the vaccine to your medication can make a big difference.

– Do not do any of these without asking your rheumatologist first (let them know that you did read these up to date recommendations here)
– I also recommend these to my patients who get any vaccine, IF they are in remission or at low risk of flaring when they get the vaccine (again, do not do this without talking to your rheumatologist first)

The link to the full recommendations is below at the bottom of the post. 

Drug recommendations summary:

On their August 2021 revision of the guidelines, they stated that “Except for glucocorticoids and anti-cytokine therapies (see footnote), hold all immunomodulatory or immunosuppressive medications for 1-2 weeks after booster vaccination, assuming disease activity allows.” for supplemental dosing (e.g. booster doses. 
Yet, they did not change their recommendations for initial COVID vaccines.
This presents some questions.
Why do healthcare professionals not recommend stopping some of these same drugs (such as azathioprine) for the initial dosing? It seems it would be just as important to do so.
Also, hydroxychloroquine is an “immunomodulatory,” yet there is not good evidence that it prevents vaccines from working.

What I am doing in my practice regarding immunosuppressants and vaccines to include COVID vaccines in immunocompromised patients :

Recommend that my patients stop immunosuppressants for 2 weeks after all vaccines in order to hopefully have them work better. Some drugs, such as rituximab, mycophenolate, and abatacept: I will go by the recommendations higher up in the chart, unless the ACR committee changes their recommendations based upon better medical evidence.
Do not do this on your own without talking to your doctor.

Other important recommendations from the ACR:


Don Thomas, author of “The Lupus Encyclopedia” and “The Lupus Secrets

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