Information about the COVID-19 vaccine(s), psoriasis and immunosuppressant medications.
The COVID-19 vaccine provides the best protection against coronavirus. Three vaccines for COVID-19 have currently been approved for use in the UK: the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine; the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine; and the Moderna vaccine. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are already being given to people at sites across the UK. The Moderna vaccine has only recently been approved and is not expected to be available in the UK until Spring 2021.
While this is certainly cause for optimism, it’s completely understandable that people who are taking immunosuppressive drugs for their psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis may have some concerns about whether or not it is safe for them to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
We’ve put the following information together to try and address some of the concerns you may have. It’s important to note that we are learning more about both COVID-19 itself and the different vaccines that are being developed all the time. We will ensure that this section is updated regularly as further information is released.
For general information about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the NHS website.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine suitable for people with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis?
Yes, current evidence suggests that the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are all suitable for people who are living with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. Therefore, having psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis, or taking prescribed medicines to treat your condition will not affect whether or not you can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, or which vaccine is best for you.
Is a COVID-19 vaccine likely to affect my psoriasis?
There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines are bad for psoriasis (or likely to make it worse, or flare), hence why people are encouraged to have the flu vaccine each year. At this stage, scientists are having to extrapolate data from other vaccines such as the flu vaccine and can see no reason why the COVID-19 vaccine would be any different in terms of flaring/causing psoriasis from, say, the flu vaccine. Systematic reviews have not found evidence that (non-live) vaccines are bad for psoriasis.
Is it safe for people who are taking immunosuppressant medication to receive a COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are all considered suitable for people who are living with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis regardless of whether they are receiving drugs that affect the immune system (such as methotrexate and biologic injections, for example) or not.
People who are receiving drugs which affect the immune system are not able to receive live (also known as 'attenuated') vaccines, however the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are not live vaccines. Non-live vaccines can generally be given safely to people receiving drugs that affect the immune system (such as methotrexate and biologic injections, for example), however further study is required to understand how well the vaccines work in the context of these medications.
Will a COVID-19 vaccine be effective in people who are taking immunosuppressant medication?
The only uncertainty we have with the COVID-19 vaccines is whether they will be as effective in people who are taking immunosuppressive medications (such as methotrexate and biologic injections, for example). Trials to date have not included people taking drugs that affect the immune system and thus vaccine efficacy in this specific population will need to be established.
When will I be offered the COVID-19 vaccine?
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, which can be found here.
If I have been shielding, should I continue to shield after I have received the COVID-19 vaccine?
Current government advice for people who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 (people in the shielding group) is that, even if you have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should continue to follow shielding advice until further notice, while the impact of vaccination continues to be assessed.
Will data be collected on the effect of the COVID-19 vaccines on people with psoriasis?
Registry data such as that from the British Association of Dermatologists Biologics and Immunomodulators Register (BADBIR) and PsoProtect should be collected to inform whether the COVID-19 vaccines either positively or negatively affect psoriasis outcomes. In addition, if you have psoriasis yourself, you can self-report to the PsoProtectMe study (whether you have had COVID-19 or not). If you do experience COVID-19 infection then you can also ask your healthcare professional to report this to the PsoProtect registry.
If you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, you can report any suspected side effects via the Coronavirus Yellow Card reporting site.
More information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available from the NHS here.
Information from the British Society for Immunology about the different types of vaccines for COVID-19 and how they work can be found here.
The British Association of Dermatologists has also issued an FAQs document addressing COVID-19 vaccination for immunosuppressed patients, which can be found here.
For more information relating to COVID-19 and psoriasis, please visit our COVID-19 information hub.
Please note, this content was first posted on Wednesday 2nd December 2020 and last updated on Monday 11th January 2021.