Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD occurs when a person’s immune system does not function properly. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe for use in people with Crohn’s disease because it is not a live virus vaccine.
Certain medications for Crohn’s disease can weaken a person’s immune system. It also means that vaccines that work by using a live virus may not be safe for an individual with the condition.
However, the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain live/intact virus, so it is safe for people with Crohn’s disease to receive.
Read on to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and Crohn’s disease. This article also contains information about the effect of COVID-19 on someone with Crohn’s disease.
Yes, a person with Crohn’s disease can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of May 2021,
However, if a person is allergic to any of the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine, they should not have it.
Besides this recommendation, it is important that anyone eligible for this vaccine has one. They help stop people from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and prevent the virus from spreading.
If a person has any concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, they should speak with a healthcare professional. They can also find more information on the different COVID-19 vaccines and Crohn’s disease on the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation website.
There are different COVID-19 vaccines with different ingredients that people can choose to have. A person with a severe allergy to an ingredient in a specific vaccine should not have that particular vaccine — they can speak with a healthcare professional about their options.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain live viruses, meaning that a person with Crohn’s disease can get any vaccine for this disease.
If people have concerns about how their Crohn’s disease medication will interact with these vaccines, they should speak with their doctor.
A 2021 study noted that people with IBD were likely to experience side effects of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine similarly to people without IBD. Researchers also found that those receiving biologics or small-molecule inhibitors for their IBD were less likely to have adverse side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.
Research from 2021 found that individuals taking infliximab, a drug for Crohn’s disease, had a reduced immune response after one COVID-19 vaccine compared to those not taking the vaccine. Therefore, at that point, the people receiving the drug had less protection from COVID-19 than those not taking it.
However, once individuals taking infliximab had a second vaccine or COVID-19, their immune response returned to normal levels. Therefore, it is crucial that those taking infliximab have their second vaccine as quickly as possible within the recommended vaccine interval window.
During the COVID-19 vaccine trials, tens of thousands of volunteers received vaccinations to study their effects. However, researchers included limited numbers of people with IBD in these studies, meaning there is not much information on the effects of these vaccines on those with Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s disease occurs when a person’s immune system overreacts to harmless foreign organisms. This overreaction can cause inflammation in a person’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
A 2020 viewpoint paper notes that there is no increased risk of COVID-19 in people with Crohn’s disease.
A person with Crohn’s disease is likely to experience COVID-19 in the same way as someone without the condition.
However, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation notes that having Crohn’s alongside other risk factors can increase the chances of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms. These risk factors include:
- being 60 years old or over
- having an underlying health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, or chronic liver disease
- being currently or recently pregnant
- having a compromised immune system
Medications and complication risk
- biologics, including ustekinumab, vedolizumab, infliximab, adalimumab, or golimumab
- immunosuppressants, such as azathioprine, mercaptopurine, tioguanine, methotrexate, tacrolimus, or ciclosporin
- other medications, including tofacitinib or steroids involving less than 20 milligrams (mg) prednisolone a day, except budesonide or betamethasone
A person with Crohn’s disease may receive a prescription for cytokine blockers from their doctor. These suppress the production of cytokines, which are proteins that are involved in immune responses. Cytokine blockers can help reduce inflammation due to cytokines.
Researchers from 2020 have found that cytokine blockers may have the potential to protect a person against COVID-19-driven pneumonia.
A person with Crohn’s disease should continue to take medication for their condition according to their doctor’s advice.
Even though some medications can raise the risk of developing COVID-19 complications, stopping these medications means an individual is more likely to experience similar complications from the increased possibility of a flare-up. This includes people who have stopped taking their medication in the last 3 months, as traces of these medicines can remain in the bloodstream.
Having a compromised immune system from taking immunosuppressants for Crohn’s may cause a person to be more likely of serious illness from COVID-19. With this in mind, it is important that an individual with Crohn’s disease receives the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
Certain medications for Crohn’s disease can affect the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine if a person is not fully vaccinated. People should speak to their doctor about their Crohn’s disease medication before planning and having their first and second vaccine doses.
COVID-19 vaccines do not contain live viruses and are safe for use in those with Crohn’s disease. There is no particular vaccine that is better than another for a person with the condition, so recommendations state that individuals with Crohn’s disease should have whichever COVID-19 vaccine is available to them.
For more advice on COVID-19 prevention and treatment, visit our coronavirus hub.