Spondylitis Patients Can Now get a COVID-19 Booster Shot in Ontario

Patients taking biologic medications to control spondylitis are now eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot in Ontario.

The Ontario Ministry of Health announced an updated vaccine plan and expanded vaccine eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots. People at increased risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 have been approved for a third dose of the vaccine, including people taking biologic medications used to manage ankylosing spondylitis and other spondyloarthritis diseases.

Taking biologics for spondylitis means you are eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot in Ontario.
Photo by Kaja Reichardt on Unsplash

Why is Ontario offering a third COVID-19 vaccination?

According to Health Canada, people with compromised immune systems have been observed to generally have lower effectiveness from COVID-19 vaccines. Additional concern about the effectiveness of two-dose vaccination against the Delta variant has caused the government to evaluate their plan, and recommend a third dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) to immunocompromised people.

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot in Ontario?

People undergoing active treatment with immunosuppressive therapies, including tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents that are significantly immunosuppressive are eligible for the COVID-19 booster shot.

Multiple classes of biologic and biosimilars used to treat ankylosing spondylitis and other spondyloarthritis diseases are immunosuppressive, including TNF inhibitors (tumor necrotic factor), IL-17 inhibitors (Interleukin-17), and JAK inhibitors (Janus tyrosine kinase).

If you are taking biologics or biosimilars to control your ankylosing spondylitis or other spondyloarthritis disease symptoms, including TNF Inhibitors, IL-17 Inhibitors, or JAK Inhibitors, you are eligible!

Commonly prescribed biologics and biosimilars used to treat SpA include:

  • TNF Inhibitors
    • Etanercept (Enbrel)
    • Infliximab (Remicade)
    • Adalimumab (Humira)
    • Golimumab (Simponi)
    • Certolizumab (Cimzia)
    • Adalimumab biosimilars (Amgevita, Hadlima, Hulio, Hyrimoz, Idacio)
    • Infliximab biosimilars (Inflectra)
  • IL-17 Inhibitors
    • Secukinumab (Cosentyx)
    • Ixekizumab (Taltz)
  • JAK Inhibitors
    • Tofacitinib (Xeljanz)
    • Upadacitinib (Rinvoq)

What should I do if I want a COVID-19 booster shot?

Eligible patients will be contacted by their healthcare provider to provide them with a referral. It may take some time, so be patient!

According to a tweet by Dr. Haroon, VP, Canadian Rheumatology Association, some offices without an automated system to contact patients may have practical difficulties contacting patients, and therefore calling your doctors office for a letter is recommended. 

If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, which is open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and capable of providing assistance in 300 languages.


The full release from the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Read the full recommendation from the Ontario Ministry of Health. 

Additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised individuals by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

For more news and updates, visit our COVID-19 Information Center