Dr. Arthur Bookman is providing the following statement to members of the Sjögren’s Society of Canada. He is the Chair of the SjSC Medical Advisory Board.
Sjögren’s Syndrome and COVID-19:
So far, limited clinical studies have indicated that patients with autoimmune disease do not suffer more severe reactions to COVID-19 infections than the general population. Poorer prognosis is more tangibly associated with poor general health, such as chronic lung disease, congestive heart failure and morbid obesity. Drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases do not seem to affect prognosis except for prednisone in doses greater than 10 mg a day. The effect of Rituximab treatment on prognosis is of concern, but is not clear.
Sjögren’s Syndrome and COVID-19 Vaccination:
There is no known contra-indication against any of the available vaccines or impending vaccines for Sjögren’s patients, but direct information is lacking. Limited side effects such as local injection site swelling and redness, 24 hours of minor fever and/or malaise can occur in anyone who receives these vaccines. We have no direct knowledge concerning major allergic reactions in patients with auto-immune diseases. These are not being reported more frequently at this early stage. The final decision to proceed with immunization must be made with the advice of the patient’s physician.
Immunosuppressant drugs could blunt the antibody response to the vaccine, and the use or timing of such medications around the time of injection should be discussed with your prescribing doctor.
Arthur A. M. Bookman MD FRCPC
Chair, Sjögren’s Society of Canada Medical Advisory Board
Coordinator, Multidisciplinary Sjogren’s Clinic
University Health Network
We will continue to keep our members updated as new information becomes available.