Local and systemic reactogenicity of COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis

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Vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) were launched in December 2020. Vaccination of patients with rheumatic diseases is recommended, as they are considered at higher risk of severe COVID-19 than the general population. Patients with rheumatic disease have largely been excluded from vaccine phase 3 trials. This study explores the safety and reactogenicity of BNT162b2 among patients with rheumatic diseases. Patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), median age 58.8 years, 285 subjects in total, were vaccinated twice with the BNT162b2 (Pfizer/BioNTech). Questionnaires on reactogenicity matching the original phase 3 study were answered seven days after completed vaccination. The majority of SLE and RA patients experienced either local (78.0%) or systemic reactions (80.1%). Only 1.8% experienced a grade-4 reaction. Compared to the original study, we found more frequent fatigue [Odds ratio (OR) 2.2 (1.7-2.8)], headache [OR 1.7 (1.3-2.2)], muscle pain [OR 1.8 (1.4-2.3)], and joint pain [OR 2.3 (1.7-3.0)] in patients. In contrast, the use of antipyretics was less frequent [OR 0.5 (0.3-0.6)]. Patients with SLE and RA experience reactogenicity to the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine. Reactogenicity was more frequent in patients, however, not more severe compared with healthy controls.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRheumatology International
Pages (from-to)1925-1931
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

    Research areas

  • Arthritis, rheumatoid, COVID-19, Lupus erythematosus, systemic, Outcome measures, Patient reported, Vaccination

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