Statement on COVID-19 for patients with vasculitis

UK and Ireland Vasculitis Society (UKIVAS), January 5 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic remains a major concern for us all.

Some vasculitis patients are at ‘high’ risk (or extremely vulnerable), were they to catch the virus and so should remain cautious and follow the latest government advice:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

‘High’ risk is determined by the immunosuppressant drugs that you have taken, especially higher doses of steroids, and whether you have any of the other risk factors the government has previously published, including being over 70 years old; overweight; having another health problem such as diabetes; kidney, heart or lung disease; high blood pressure; or a flare in your vasculitis in the last 6 months.

Although some vasculitis clinic consultations are now being delivered remotely, it may still be necessary to attend for hospital visits or vasculitis treatment, and you should be guided by your local vasculitis team/consultant.

Unless advised otherwise by your local vasculitis team, it is important you continue all your immunosuppressant medications because the health risk associated with a flare of your disease is likely to be greater than the risks associated with COVID-19.

The authorisation of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines in the UK provides welcome news. It is considered safe and patients with vasculitis should be encouraged to receive this vaccine when invited by their local health care provider. When offered the vaccine, it is important to discuss the timing of routine immunosuppressant drugs, such as rituximab, with your vasculitis team to maximise the chances of vaccine success.

Further disease specific advice can be found via the following links:-

The Renal Association: https://www.kidneycareuk.org/news-and-campaigns/coronavirus-advice/ and

The British Society for Rheumatology: https://www.rheumatology.org.uk/practice-quality/covid-19-guidance.

Our understanding of the situation continues to evolve and we strongly encourage all patients to keep in touch with their vasculitis care team and follow the most current Government and NHS advice:
There is intense research underway concerning how best to protect patients and as soon as new knowledge becomes available we will update this guidance.
UKIVAS
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