Imperial College London

Experts support COVID vaccines for Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients

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Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

British Society of Gastroenterology Inflammatory Bowel Disease Section and IBD Clinical Research Group release statement supporting COVID-19 vaccines.

You will be able to have the coronavirus vaccine if you are immunosuppressed; you need the coronavirus vaccine if you are immunosuppressed; and you will be prioritised because you are immunosuppressed. Dr Nick Powell Clinical Reader and Consultant in Gastroenterology

The statement, co-written by the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction's Dr Nick Powell, Dr James Alexander and external colleagues, strongly supports SARS-CoV2 vaccinations for patients with IBD, while underscoring the risks of taking the vaccination in IBD patients are anticipated to be very low.

Patients with IBD may have increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. The main concerns around IBD patients taking the vaccine are related to the theoretical risk of sub-optimal vaccine responses rather than vaccine side effects. Even if vaccine effectiveness was reduced it would still likely offer some protection from the virus. The one thing for certain is that if you don't have the vaccine you will remain at high risk of getting the virus

Dr Powell has spoken about potential side effects, stating: "The risks of vaccination are very low, and are mostly confined to short-lived, mild side effects, like headache or fatigue. On the other hand, the risks of COVID-19 infection are sadly all too familiar. More than 1 in 1000 people in the UK have already lost their lives to this deadly virus. Vaccination is the best way of protecting IBD patients from COVID-19 and will be the most important route for us to get back on track with our lives".

The team has been working on a number of projects and events around public and patient engagement with the vaccines. At the end of last year, Dr Powell was one of a number of experts on a panel discussing covid vaccines for people with Crohn’s or Colitis. The panel answered patient questions and alleviated potential fears they may have about being vaccinated. Catch up on the event here.

With the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines already receiving MHRA approval, and the Moderna vaccine approval expected shortly, it is recommended that IBD patients accept whichever approved SARS-CoV2 vaccination is offered to them.

Speaking about the vaccines, Dr Powell said: "Vaccination against SARS-CoV2 holds the key to beating this deadly disease. It is especially important in vulnerable patient groups. We have engaged extensively with our patients and have found that there are significant concerns and worries about the vaccines. The IBD experts of the British Society of Gastroenterology unanimously agree that vaccination is by far the best option for IBD patients, and indeed other patient groups needing to take immunosuppressive drugs."

Read the BSG's full statement.

Reporter

Benjamin Coleman

Benjamin Coleman
Department of Surgery & Cancer

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Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 0964
Email: b.coleman@imperial.ac.uk

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