From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have had many questions. Now that vaccines against the virus are becoming available, people living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis need even more information in order to make decisions. I asked Dr David Rubin, Chief of the Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition and the Co-Director of the Digestive Diseases Center at The University of Chicago Medicine to answer some of these initial questions about the first COVID-19 vaccines (manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna). Topics discussed on this episode include:
How vaccines work
How mRNA works
How IBD medications affect the immune system
IBD medications and their potential effect on COVID-19 vaccination
When we’ll have more information about COVID-19 vaccines and IBD
Why side effects with vaccines are expected and what they mean
I attended a briefing given by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) which was focused on COVID-19 and how the disease may affect people who live with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The briefing was given by three specialists: AGA Patient Education Advisor, Rajeev Jain, MD, AGAF, of Texas Digestive Disease Consultants; David T. Rubin, MD, AGAF, Joseph B. Kirsner Professor of Medicine, Chief, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, University of Chicago Medicine, Illinois; and Russell D. Cohen, MD, AGAF, Professor of Medicine, Director, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, University of Chicago Medicine, Illinois. Drs Jain, Rubin, and Cohen are all integral in the IBD community and generously lend their time and expertise to helping both healthcare professionals and patients better understand IBD. What follows are highlights from this presentation that illustrate what has been learned so far about the intersection of IBD and COVID-19.