COVID19 & Arthritis: What to Do
Having arthritis is bad enough. For many forms of arthritis and rheumatic diseases - diseases caused by abnormalities in the immune system - we are very good at managing them, essentially putting them into remission. However, that means powerful medications that also affect your immune system. All said, this puts you at an increased risk for infections to be worse than the next person. When it comes to COVID19, it means your risk of bad COVID19 is greater than someone who doesn't have arthritis.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to lower that risk. First off, it's the simple things. Social distancing, masking and just generally being safe in your environment. That's not to say you shouldn't live life, as that is part of being healthy and wellness, but just being smart about it.
Second, but perhaps most important... get the COVID19 vaccine. The vaccine remains the most effective and safe way NOT to reduce the risk of getting COVID19, but more importantly, reducing your risk of getting BAD COVID19. Bad COVID19 means reducing your risk of needing to be hospitalized, needing advanced treatments liked supplemental oxygen or intubation, reducing your risk of long term impairment and reducing your risk of death. Many countries are now routinely offering 3rd and 4th vaccinations for those with autoimmune diseases because it can reduce these risks. It remains our best protection.
As written above, vaccine alone is no longer that effective at preventing COVID19 alone. So, if you do get it, fortunately we know have some treatment options that reduce your risk of getting bad COVID19. Sotrovimab is an IV medication while Paxlovid is an oral medication, both of which have been shown to drastically reduce the risk of bad COVID19. If you have an autoimmune disease and get COVID19, check with your local health authority to see if you qualify for these medications.
So nothing earth shattering, but we do have some simple effective steps to reduce the chance of bad outcomes from COVID19. Please consider these options to maintain your health and wellness for a long time to come.