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24-03-2021 | Rheumatology | News | Article

News in brief

‘Reassuring’ early findings on COVID-19 vaccine safety in RMD patients

Author: Claire Barnard

medwireNews: Findings from an observational study suggest that the safety profile of messenger (m)RNA COVID-19 vaccines in patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) is consistent with that seen in the clinical trial populations.

Caoilfhionn Connolly (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA) and colleagues explain that people with RMDs “were largely excluded from the vaccine trials,” and “[c]oncerns relating to the side effect profile of the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines have been identified as a primary concern of patients resulting in vaccine hesitancy.”

They therefore evaluated tolerability and peri-vaccination reactogenicity among 325 people with RMDs who received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech (BNT162b2; 51%) or Moderna (mRNA-1273; 49%) vaccine between December 2020 and February 2021. Almost all (96%) patients were women; the most common RMD diagnosis was inflammatory arthritis (38%), followed by systemic lupus erythematosus (28%), and just under a fifth of patients (19%) were taking biologics.

Connolly and colleagues report in a letter to the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases that local and systemic adverse events (AEs) were “typically mild” and “consistent with expected vaccine reactogenicity.” The most common AEs were injection site pain, fatigue, and headache, and no allergic reactions requiring epinephrine occurred.

“These early, reassuring results may ameliorate concern among patients and provide guidance for rheumatology providers in critical discussions regarding vaccine hesitancy or refusal,” write the researchers.

They note, however, that “[t]he time course of this study did not allow for assessment of disease flares following vaccination and long-term follow-up is vital” in future studies.

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2021 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

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Ann Rheum Dis 2021; doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2021-220231