By Oluwafunke Ishola
Lagos, June 8, 2021 A Consultant Rheumatologist, Dr Hakeem Olaosebikan, says COVID-19 vaccine is not an emergency treatment for lupus patients.
Olaosebikan, who works at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, made the assertion in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday in Lagos.
He said such patient must fulfill certain criteria before taking the vaccine.
Lupus or SLE is an inflammatory or autoimmune disease that occurs when the body system attacks its own tissues and organs.
Inflammation resulting from lupus may affect various body organs including the skin, kidneys, brain, blood cells, lungs, heart and the joints.
Olaosebikan said that patients with autoimmune diseases have abnormal immune systems, noting that their immune system was over active or dysfunctional, thus cannot fight germs effectively.
He noted that people with lupus disease were susceptible to contract COVID-19 infection, and also have severe COVID-19 disease compared to someone without lupus disease.
He stressed that due to their risk, lupus patients must adhere strictly to all non-pharmaceutical public health measures, including vaccine.
Speaking on the criteria for the eligibility of lupus patients to receive COVID-19 vaccine, Olaosebikan said that such patients should ensure that their lupus level was stable before attempting to get the vaccine.
He added that the patient’s use of steroid tablet such as prednisolone tablets must not be more than 10 milligram per day.
The rheumatologist said that immune modulator drugs must be stopped two weeks before scheduled vaccine date, and recommenced a week after vaccination.
Olaosebikan said that a research study discovered that some lupus patients who had received the vaccine had flares, meaning that the vaccine worsened their symptoms.
According to him, the study showed that among 571 lupus patients that were vaccinated, 46 per cent reported side effects after first dose of the vaccine, and 53 per cent after the second dose.
“That is why the precautionary measures were advised because the symptoms of lupus flare were sometimes difficult to differentiate from the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.
He advised lupus patients to consult their physicians for their eligibility and fitness before taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Olaosebikan stressed that vaccines were safe, noting that the side effects were transient, and the benefits of inoculation outweighs the risk of not being vaccinated.