COVID-19 Vaccine info for IBD patients
COVID-19 Vaccine info for Nova Scotia IBD patients
*** info regarding the vaccine is rapidly changing. This information was current as of March 8, 2021
Is the vaccine safe and can I receive it?
There are four COVID -19 vaccines currently approved in Canada. The vaccines are made by Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson. NONE of these four vaccines are live-attenuated vaccines.
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).
Current guidelines from the Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer state that before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, people with diseases of the immune system including IBD (Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease) should discuss the risks and benefits of getting the vaccine with a health care provider.
If your IBD has been “stable”/unchanged/in remission for a while, you can have this discussion with your family care provider (MD or NP) or pharmacist.
If your IBD is currently “unstable”/active/flaring you should have this discussion with your specialist (GI doctor or NP).
When will I receive the vaccine?
IBD patients will receive the vaccine based on guidelines set out by the Nova Scotia Government/Public Health. For more information 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 and frequently asked questions please visit:
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.