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Published on February 23, 2021

covid vaccine and syringes

Should I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine If I Have a Chronic Condition?

For many people, the continued distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is a sign of hope, and they are eager to receive the vaccine when it becomes available to them.

If you have a chronic or underlying condition, are immunocompromised, or are at high risk if you get COVID-19, it’s highly recommended that you get the COVID-19 vaccine.

What is a chronic condition?

Chronic conditions are diseases that require ongoing care by you and your health care provider. In the context of getting the COVID-19 vaccine, these are conditions that affect you physically.

The following isn’t an inclusive list:

  • Allergies or asthma
  • Arthritis/rheumatoid arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney failure (on dialysis)
  • Obesity
  • Organ transplant

Seek out the input of your provider if you have questions about your condition and the vaccine. While pregnancy and breastfeeding aren’t chronic conditions, women on those long-term health journeys are also encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Can immunocompromised patients get this vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine for immunocompromised individuals, such as transplant and cancer patients. However, it may be less effective.

“The immune system of an immunocompromised patient may not respond to the vaccine as strongly as someone with a normal immune system,” explained David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality. “However, a partial response is better than no response at all.”

People at high risk should continue to protect themselves by wearing a mask and social distancing after getting the vaccine; in fact, this is recommended for everyone.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine interfere with medications?

There is not a lot of data around other medications. However, the trial study included participants with chronic conditions that were being managed with medications. Those participants did not present issues.

Some medications may decrease immunity; however, the added protection of the vaccine is worthwhile. A few COVID-19 treatments may interfere with vaccine response. Specifically, do not get this vaccine for 90 days after receiving convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibodies such as bamlanivimab or Regeneron.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine make my symptoms worse?

It’s normal for your arm to feel tender after vaccination. You may experience symptoms such as headache, body aches or fever. These symptoms are short-lived and mean your immune system is responding well to the vaccine.

As for symptoms related to your condition, the vaccine doesn’t appear to cause unusual flare-ups. However, contact your provider immediately for any concerns.

What if I had a reaction from a previous vaccine?

Only in rare cases would a person have to approach vaccination with caution. For example, if you had a serious reaction to an IV injection that required hospitalization or an epinephrine injection, you may need to get the vaccine at a special high-risk vaccination clinic where we can watch you closely.

Also, if you’re allergic to latex, inform the staff when you arrive for your vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.

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