The Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Section of the BSG and the IBD Clinical Research Group have recently issued a position statement on SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) vaccination. This includes key recommendations (copied below) and answers to FAQs (compiled in collaboration with Crohn’s & Colitis UK).
Key recommendations from the IBD Section of the BSG and the IBD Clinical Research Group
- We strongly support SARS-CoV2 vaccination for patients with IBD.
- The risks of vaccination in IBD patients are anticipated to be very low.
- In IBD patients taking immunosuppressive drugs, including biologics and small molecule inhibitors, the key concerns are related to the theoretical risk of suboptimal vaccine responses rather than vaccine side effects.
- We recommend that IBD patients accept whichever approved vaccination is offered to them, in accordance with UK Department of Health and Social Care and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance.
- It is important that patients with IBD are offered consistent and unbiased advice. This will be disseminated through the BSG and Crohn’s & Colitis UK.
Timing of COVID-19 vaccination and IBD treatment
We know that individual IBD teams are taking different approaches to the timing of the vaccination and IBD treatment, which is causing confusion for patients. Clear and consistent messages really help to reduce anxiety at this time.
The BSG’s position statement says “The main priority with timing is delivery of the vaccine at the earliest opportunity. This is especially important with the NHS under considerable strain during vaccine roll out and we would recommend accepting the first available vaccine appointment if/when offered. Neither IBD disease activity, nor the timing of subcutaneous/intravenous IBD medications should delay vaccination.”
The Crohn’s & Colitis UK website says “The coronavirus vaccine is suitable to take in most circumstances, including when you are in a Crohn's or Colitis flare-up. You do not need to leave a gap between your vaccine and when you take your biologic medicine - they can both be taken on the same day if needed. Your IBD Team may recommend that you leave a gap between the two if you are likely to experience side effects, but your vaccine will still be just as safe and just as effective if taken at the same time as your biologic medicine.”
Your role in identifying Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and Clinically Vulnerable patients
As priority for vaccination – and access to other support - relies on correctly identifying both Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and Clinically Vulnerable patients with IBD, it is really important that you update the shielding list regularly, as per your hospital’s process (NHS Digital Guidance), and include information about risk levels on letters to GPs, so that they can action appropriately.
For up-to-date patient-facing information on the COVID-19 vaccine and IBD please see the Crohn’s & Colitis UK website, which continues to be updated regularly.
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