Stelara and the Covid Vaccine: What should I know?
Stelara (ustekinumab) is an immunosuppressant drug, which means that it weakens the immune system and can increase the risk of infections such as COVID-19. Additionally, having a weakened immune system can dampen the body’s response to vaccination, potentially decreasing the efficacy. This means the vaccine may not protect against disease at the same level as in those who are not immunocompromised. There is limited data on the specific effects of Stelara on COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, and vaccine response in general depends on individual factors. However, all non-live vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, are generally safe for patients taking Stelara.
Patients taking Stelara should talk to their doctor about COVID-19 vaccination. Since Stelara suppresses the immune system, those taking Stelara are considered immunocompromised. The CDC recommends a three-dose series of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine for immunocompromised adults, followed by two boosters. Those who received the Janssen vaccine for their first dose should receive an mRNA vaccine for their second dose and two additional boosters. These guidelines vary based on the age of the patient and other factors. The CDC has more information about the timing of COVID-19 vaccination for immunocompromised individuals.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Stelara. October 2019. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2019/761044s003lbl.pdf [Accessed June 20, 2022]
- British Columbia Ministry of Health. Clinical Guidance on COVID- 19 Vaccines for Persons with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Available at: http://www.bccdc.ca/Health-Info-Site/Documents/COVID-19_vaccine/IBD_Clinical_Guidance.pdf. [Accessed June 17th, 2022).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 Vaccines for Moderately to Severely Immunocompromised People. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html#mod. [Accessed June 17th, 2022).
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