COVID-19 Vaccine info for IBD patients
How many doses should I receive?
Immunocompromised people can receive three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. They are also eligible to receive a booster dose 168 days after their third dose.
You can receive the seasonal flu vaccine either before, after, or at the same time as the COVID vaccine. There is no required spacing between these vaccines.
Immunocompromised people, including those taking medications that can substantially affect their immune system, are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends 1 additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for moderately or severely immunocompromised people to increase immune response to the virus.
*******You will need to bring a list of medications and other supporting documentation (like prescription bottles and insurance notes) to your appointment that shows you meet the criteria for moderate to severe immunocompromise. Vaccination clinics will review your medications and supporting documentation to make sure you’re eligible and that your medication substantially affects your immune system.*****
The detailed criteria can be found here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/immunocompromised/ however the medications that are included are:
-infliximab (e.g. Remicade, Inflectra)
-adalimumab (e.g. Humira)
-Prednisone >20mg for >14 days
Further information can be found at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/vaccine/
General COVID-19 Vaccine information
Is the vaccine safe and can I receive it?
There vaccines that are currently approved and being administered in Canada are mRNA vaccines that are made by Pfizer and Moderna. The mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and can be given to patients who are immunosuppressed.
Health Canada has conducted a rigorous scientific review of the available medical evidence to assess the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently licensed in Canada. No major safety concerns have been identified in the data that was reviewed (Source: Health Canada).
Most immunocompromised people and those with diseases of the immune system were excluded from the initial coronavirus vaccine trials. Now that the vaccine has come to market and is available for use, the vaccine is likely to be studied in immunocompromised people.
It's understandable to have questions about the fact that there has been no specific vaccine trial for people with Crohn's or Colitis on immunosuppressants. However, this is true of most medicines and vaccines. The coronavirus vaccine has been extensively tested, and trials have involved people with varied chronic underlying conditions and broad age ranges, including many older people. Older people have weaker immune systems than younger people, and the vaccine was still found to be suitable for them. The data on how people with Crohn's and Colitis have coped with coronavirus, even those taking medicines that affect their immune system, is reassuring, and shows no significant differences from the general population (Source: Crohn’s and Colitis UK).
For more general information on the vaccine and to book your appointment please visit
It is important to note that this information may change often so you should try and stay updated by checking for new information and listening to news briefings.
For more information regarding the vaccine and IBD including frequently asked questions please visit:
Should you have further questions and feel you need to discuss the vaccine in greater detail please contact your family care provider, pharmacist or member of your IBD care team (nurse, nurse practitioner, physician).
We recommend that all IBD patients receive the annual flu vaccine. Many pharmacies are doing on-line booking this year. Please contact us if you are having trouble getting the vaccine.
The flu vaccine is a non-live vaccine. It is safe to get if you are on biologic therapy. The best time to get your flu shot would be at the “half-way” point between your treatments. For example if you take Humira every 2 weeks, the best time to get the flu shot would be a week after your dose and a week before the next one. If you get an infusion every 8 weeks for example, the best time to get the flu shot would be at the 4 week point.
There is a high dose flu vaccine for patients aged 65 and older. This is an option for our IBD patients who are over 65, however if you are unable to access it, the “regular” dose is sufficient.