Click here for American College of Rheumatology guidance on medication changes with COVID vaccination
Coronavirus (COVID-19): a message from your doctor
Over the course of the past several weeks, I have been closely following the news coverage and clinical updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other medical professional resources about the spread and danger of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Understandably, I have been asked questions from many concerned patients regarding what to do in the face of this new public health concern. This is an evolving problem. As I learn more about impact of COVID-19 world-wide and in our community, my recommendations regarding travel, ongoing medication use, and attending work and social gatherings are changing to keep pace with recommendations from national health agencies, mandates from our governor, and my clinical opinion as your doctor.
As you seek to find answers to questions that you may have, feel free to review the latest recommendations from the CDC and American College of Rheumatology Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. Our staff at Integrative Rheumatology will continue to monitor the current public health concerns closely and provide updates as new information arises.
Wishing you good health and wellness,
Charles A. Withers, II, M.D.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Who is at risk for catching coronavirus?
While anyone can catch coronavirus, older adults and people who have serious chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and lung diseases appear to be at highest risk. While there are no official reports of increased cases of coronavirus in people on immunosuppressive medications, these medications may place you at higher risk of infection and serious complications.
Should patients who are taking steroids (prednisone), DMARDs, or biologic medications stop their therapy?
New recommendations from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) give guidelines for how to adjust your medications if you decide to get the COVID vaccine. Please see these instructions in the link below. As a reminder, please stop any immunosuppressive medication IF YOU ARE SICK with any infection (i.e. the flu, UTI, pneumonia, coronavirus, etc.).
What can patients with rheumatologic disease do to protect themselves against coronavirus?
The CDC and multiple other sources agree about the importance of good hygiene. As you hopefully remember me telling you in clinic, “wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands!” I would also encourage you to sanitize any potentially contaminated surfaces in your daily environment. If you are taking an immunosuppressive medication, please do your best to have increased caution, avoiding large crowds, sick people, and unnecessary travel (see CDC travel warning). It is helpful to stay well hydrated and consider supplements that have vitamin C or other immune boosters such as elderberry or echinacea. It is also universally understood that masks reduce the transmission of COVID so please be vigilant about wearing masks when around others not in your own household.
Should I plan to keep my upcoming clinic appointment?
Our office is taking careful precautions to continue serving patients in clinic. If you are feeling healthy with no signs of infection or recent sick contacts, we encourage you to keep your appointment at Integrative Rheumatology. If you have signs of a contagious infection such as fever or cough, please call to cancel your appointment and make appropriate arrangements for evaluation with your primary care doctor. We also have telehealth options that will allow you to directly access our providers from home without coming into the office. Call our office to make changes to your appointment.