New research: Covid-19 vaccines safe in bowel disease patients

Patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) do not appear to have increased risk of side effects from the Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. In fact, the study suggests, those being treated with advanced immune-modifying therapies may experience side effects less often than the general population.

IBDs are chronic conditions that occur when the intestinal immune system becomes overreactive, causing chronic diarrhoea and other digestive symptoms.

Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, US, evaluated post-vaccination side effects in 246 adult IBD patients in a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine registry maintained at Cedars-Sinai. These patients, like those in the general population, most often reported pain and swelling at the injection site after vaccination, followed by fatigue, headache and dizziness, fever and chills, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Most side effects were mild and lasted only a few days.

Very few IBD patients reported severe side effects – most commonly fatigue, fever and headache. And just two of the 246 patients studied reported severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

Many IBD patients expressed concern that vaccination would cause a “flare” or worsening of their condition. However, the researchers emphasised that the vast majority of reported gastrointestinal symptoms were short-lived and resolved on their own.

Around 80% of patients in the study were being treated with advanced therapies that inhibit the body’s immune response in a targeted way. The researchers said this inhibition of the immune system might partially explain the slightly lower number of side effects these patients reported.

Source: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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