January 26, 2021
The Covid-19 vaccine rollout is finally here! As the nation (and the world) looks forward to the protection offered by these vaccines, inevitably there are questions that emerge for specific patient populations.
Just last week, a BioPlus patient reached out to ask if their specialty medication presented any concerns with an upcoming Covid vaccine. Happily, for this patient there were no expected interactions between their specialty medication and the Covid-19 vaccine. Many other patients likely have this same query.
The Covid-19 vaccines are safe for most people, although there are specific situations and factors that warrant consideration or review. The CDC remains an excellent resource for the latest information about Covid-19 vaccines.
One piece of information that offers reassurance for many patients is that none of the currently approved vaccines contain the live virus, which means they are safer to take with biologics and other immunosuppressants than would be the case if the vaccines were based on a live virus. However, there’s a caveat for patients who are on immunosuppressants: these patients may have a diminished response to the vaccine. This is considered a moderate level interaction. Thus, mask usage, social distancing, and hand hygiene remain important disease-prevention techniques.
In addition, “clinicians may wonder about delaying or stopping immunosuppressive therapies or chemotherapy before starting the Covid-19 vaccine series and then resuming once the two shots have been administered. Although such strategies have theoretical appeal, no general guidance can currently be given applicable to this diverse group,” suggests experts in the New England Journal of Medicine. This NEJM resource offers additional valuable information about immunocompromised patients and the Covid-19 vaccine that can be useful for clinicians to refer to as the vaccine becomes available to more of the U.S. population.
Although there may be small adjustments needed for vaccine usage in some patient populations, the incredibly quick development of the Covid-19 vaccine is a stunning accomplishment in the face of a global emergency. Well done, scientists!
One final thought as we look to a brighter future: 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy. Pharmacists can meet the demand of the 100 million vaccines that President Biden has pledged in just one month (assuming that that level of vaccines are available through increased production).