JointHealth™ express   July 26, 2022

Keeping up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations

COVID-19 is back in the news as a sub-variant of Omicron is spreading quickly and people who are vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19 as recently as March or April are finding themselves exhausted, coughing and staring at the dreaded two red lines on a rapid test.

Despite more than 80% of all Canadians fully vaccinated and over 4 million who have antibodies from a past COVID-19 infection, all that immunity has not made us invulnerable to mutations of the virus. The BA5 omicron variant is now responsible for the rising number of cases and hospitalizations due to it being better at infecting our cells and more adept at evading our immune defenses.

What does it mean for immunocompromised patients living with an inflammatory arthritis (IA)?

The first key consideration is make sure you are up to date with your vaccinations. That means getting your second booster. According to Dr. Jane Purvis, one of Canada’s leading rheumatologists, based in Ontario, people should not wait until the fall when a new targeted vaccine is made available.

“The threat from BA5 to immunocompromised patients living with IA is now. We do not know about the clinical severity of BA5 in comparison to other Omicron subvariants. But we do know it to be more transmissible and more immune evading. If you are not up to date with your vaccines, which means, according to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), having your first and second booster, it will not preclude you from receiving any new, updated vaccines in the fall,” said Purvis.

The latest data (June 2022) from Ontario shows that 91% of immunocompromised people have received at least two doses. However, that number falls to 72% who have received at least three and to 28% for those who have received four doses.

According to NACI, getting a booster now reduces your risk of getting infected with BA5. It does not drive it to zero, but it reduces that risk. And the data are very clear that if you are immunocompromised or over 50, that extra booster dramatically lowers the risk of getting into the hospital or going to the ICU.

The message is clear: if you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine shot this year, go get one now. It could save your life.

Check out these helpful resources to learn more