Researchers at Michigan Medical University named drugs that weaken the immune system. Taking them increases your risk of contracting severe covid. Also, these drugs can reduce the effectiveness of vaccination against coronavirus.
According to American scientists, most often doctors prescribe such immunosuppressants as prednisolone (53%), methotrexate (24.5%) and methylprednisolone (21.6%). This category includes dexamethasone, which is widespread in Russia. Collectively, corticosteroids are used by 62.5% of American patients. Finally, chemotherapy drugs, which treat many types of cancer, suppress immunity.
Most often, corticosteroids are used to treat autoimmune diseases in which the immune system overreacts to inflammation and begins to damage the tissues of its own body. To avoid self-destruction, doctors suppress the immune system with steroids. Such diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, glomerulonephritis, Crohn’s disease.
Steroids are also prescribed for organ transplant patients. In this case, drugs are used so that the immune system does not perceive the transplanted organ as foreign and does not attack it.
Finally, corticosteroids are used for exacerbation of bronchial asthma and other allergic diseases. Rheumatologist Dr. Beth Wallace claims that even low doses and short courses of steroids increase the risk of infection in people and decrease their response to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Vaccines train the immune system to recognize a specific threat so that it can respond appropriately should it ever encounter a real virus again,” Wallace explains. Immunosuppressive drugs, on the other hand, prevent the immune system from finding foreign objects and fighting them. These medicines also decrease the immune system’s ability to respond to infections and vaccines.
Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Baker of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute said that, in general, people on immunosuppressive therapy can and should get vaccinated.
“While the protective effect can vary depending on the underlying condition or immunosuppressive therapy, most people will get some protection from viruses with a vaccine,” Baker said. This will reduce the likelihood of contracting the coronavirus or contracting a severe form of COVID-19.
In some cases, you can stop taking immunosuppressive drugs during the vaccination period until the immune system develops protection. For example, if immunosuppressive therapy is given in series, with intervals between treatments, experts recommend vaccinating at least two weeks before starting the medication.
In any case, Baker advises consulting a doctor to develop an individualized vaccination strategy. The benefits of vaccination will not always outweigh the harms of stopping the medication.
The World Health Organization advises against taking over-the-counter pain relievers several days prior to vaccination. These include paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin, or nimesil. It is not yet known how these drugs affect the effectiveness of the vaccine and the possible side effects. However, they can be taken after vaccination to reduce short-term effects such as headaches, muscle aches and fever.