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We are more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic and still inching our way back to normalcy. The launch of the vaccines, however, has led to unique challenges regarding their use and benefits among the immunocompromised population, especially those who are on immunosuppressive medications to manage Ankylosing Spondylitis.
We have compiled information to try and clear the air about Ankylosing Spondylitis and COVID-19 vaccination. However, we encourage you to talk to your Rheumatologist before you make a decision regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
According to the health advisory from the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Indian Rheumatology Association, those under immunosuppressive therapy are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  
Data is not currently available to establish vaccine safety and efficacy in these groups. Individuals with immunosuppression may not generate a full immune response to COVID-19.  
Both global and Indian health advisories confirm that the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the risk.   Ask your Rheumatologist about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine based on your current condition.
Your Rheumatologist will be the best judge to decide on the right time to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Inform the vaccinator about the following:
Remember, the final decision of vaccination lies with your Rheumatologist. He will assess your eligibility for taking the vaccine based on your disease activity and the risks involved.
It is advisable to talk to your Rheumatologist about the pros and cons of COVID-19 vaccines before you make a decision. Update your Rheumatologist if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or have received any other COVID-19 vaccine. 
Precautions after taking the vaccine:
There is not enough data to guide us on the protection of the virus and its variants after taking the vaccine. In this scenario, it is important that you should continue social distancing, wear a mask and maintain hygiene to reduce your chances of acquiring or spreading the virus.
Please refer to the Health Advisory from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for further reading and clarification on the currently available COVID-19 vaccines.
Ministry of health and family welfare. FAQs for Healthcare Workers and Front line workers. Available [Online] at: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/FAQsforHCWs&FLWs.pdf Accessed on 6th April 2021.
Ministry of health and family welfare. Frequently asked questions. Available [Online] at: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/covid_vaccination/vaccination/faqs.html Accessed on 6th April 2021.
Indian Rheumatology Association. COVID-19 vaccine and rheumatic disease. Avialable [Online] at: https://www.indianrheumatology.org/ira-e-newsletter/issue/2021/april/patients-portal-1 Accessed 12 April 2021
COVID-19 guidance. British Society of Rheumatology. Available [online] at URL: https://www.rheumatology.org.uk/practice-quality/covid-19-guidance. As accessed on 4 March 2021
COVID-19 vaccine clinical guidance summary for patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease. Available [online] at URL: https://www.rheumatology.org/Portals/0/Files/COVID-19-Vaccine-Clinical-Guidance-Rheumatic-Diseases-Summary.pdf. As accessed on 4 March 2021.
COVISHIELD factsheet. Available [online] at URL: https://www.seruminstitute.com/pdf/covishield_fact_sheet.pdf. As accessed on 16 March 2021;
COVAXIN factsheet. Available [online] at URL: https://www.bharatbiotech.com/images/covaxin/covaxin-fact-sheet.pdf . As accessed on 16 March 2021