This is a summary, written by members of the CITF Secretariat, of:

Widdifield J, Eder L, Chen S, Kwong JC, Hitchon C, Lacaille D, Aviña-Zubieta JA, Svenson LW, Bernatsky S. COVID-19 Vaccination Uptake among individuals with Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases in Ontario, Canada between December 2020 and October 2021: A population-based analysis. J Rheumatol. 2022 Jan 15:jrheum.211148. doi: 10.3899/jrheum.211148.

The results and/or conclusions contained in the research do not necessarily reflect the views of all CITF members.

This CITF-funded study, led by Dr. Sasha Bernatsky from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and published in the Journal of Rheumatology, found that the proportion of people with autoimmune diseases who had received two vaccine doses was higher (83.8-88.2%) than in the general population (77.9%). Researchers gathered information from all Ontario residents, 16 years and older, who were enrolled in the provincial health insurance plan as of December 14, 2020 (when vaccination started). They collected data on diagnosed autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), psoriasis (PsO), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)) as well as vaccination status.

Key findings

  • By October 3, 2021, the cumulative percentage of people with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine was consistently higher among those with a diagnosed Immune Modulated Inflammatory Disease (IMID) – 88.9% for rheumatoid arthritis , 87.4% for ankylosing spondylitis , 90.6% for psoriatic arthritis , 87.3% for psoriasis , and 87.0% for inflammatory bowel disease – than in the general population – 82.1%.
  • There was also a higher total cumulative percentage with two doses among those with IMIDs (83.8-88.2% range among all people with IMIDs) vs the general population (77.9%).
  • The cumulative percentage of people who potentially did not come back for a second vaccine (at least 40 days overdue for the second dose) was lower among people with IMIDs (1.6-1.9%) than the general population (2.4%).
  • When looking at results by age, younger people (between the ages of 16 and 39), in the IMID group as well as the general population, had the lowest vaccine uptake (7-79.2% and 70.6% respectively).

A total of 138,304 (1.1%) individuals with rheumatoid arthritis , 28,509 (0.2%) with ankylosing spondylitis , 17,646 (0.1%) with psoriatic arthritis , 182,319 (1.5%) with psoriasis , and 108,792 (0.9%) with inflammatory bowel disease  were identified using established disease-specific case definitions applied to health administrative data. Vaccination status was extracted from the provincial COVaxON registry.

The results of this study show an encouraging vaccine uptake among people with IMIDs. This is important because individuals with compromised immune systems are a higher risk of severe outcomes when infected with SARS-CoV-2. However, among the younger age groups targeted vaccination interventions are warranted.