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.
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.
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