Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD is a set of chronic digestive symptoms that show up when immunity becomes hyperactive. It is not one disease but a series of conditions caused by inflammation of the gut including intestines, stomach, mouth, and esophagus. A newly published survey on the Covid-19 vaccination plan shows that IBD patients were having concerns regarding vaccine safety and confused to make a decision about getting it.
A new study finds out that all IBD patients can safely get Covid-19 and the risk of side effects for them is almost the same as for all other, healthy individuals. The complete details of this study are published in the journal American Journal of Gastroenterology (2021).
According to Gil Melmed from the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical Research (Cedars-Sinai), who is also the corresponding author of this study, IBD patients getting advanced treatments may get fewer side effects than other people, after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. He further said that having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is no excuse to avoid the Covid-19 vaccine, especially in this situation that it has turned into a global health crisis.
Patients having any immunity-related diseases including IBD were initially excluded from the safety trials of the Covid-19 vaccine. That’s why there were mixed reviews regarding vaccine safety for this group of people. Melmed with his fellow researchers worked on evaluating the side effects that showed up after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine in 246 IBD patients, all of which were over 18 years of age. This data was obtained all across the country from the Covid-19 vaccine registry.
Those IBD patients who received the Covid-19 vaccine reported feeling pain, inflammation, and stiffness at the injection point. Some of them experienced fatigue, fever, headache, chills, dizziness, and digestive distress. These side effects were mild for most people and vanished in a few days, without requiring any medical care.
Those who experienced severe side effects were only a few and these ‘severe’ side effects included headache, fever, agitation, and fatigue. Out of all these 246 patients, only 2 confirmed having severe digestive issues.
At the start, many IBD patients were worried about getting the Covid-19 vaccine assuming it may make their condition worse especially the post-vaccination digestive distress. However, the majority of them turned out to be fine and there were only a few cases of digestive symptoms. These symptoms were mild, short-lived, and were healed without any medical help.
More than 80% of IBD patients get advanced treatment using different therapies to mold their immunity. Some of these therapies are biologic as well as Janus kinase inhibitor therapies. These therapies are able to restrict immunity to some extent helping the body to experience lesser side effects.
It is possible to experience adverse side effects after getting the vaccine as it directly targets the immune system especially when the patient is on immuno-suppressant medicines. Still, there were no severe side effects seen in these patients.
These results are somehow the same for other patients that are suffering from inflammatory conditions and are on medications. These medications are safe and are widely prescribed to millions of people, hence the chances of a vaccine reaction are rare.
The research team will be working on understanding how the Covid-19 vaccine works on cancer patients going through extreme treatments and how does having an autoimmune changes the working of this vaccine.