Visual Abstract & Plain Language Summary for COVID-19 GRA Vaccine Survey

Plain Language Summary Title: Survey of COVID-19 vaccination experiences in patients with systemic rheumatic disease

Original Study Title: Early experience of COVID-19 vaccination in adults with systemic rheumatic diseases: results from the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance Survey by Sattui et al., RMD Open, September 2021

Lay summary contributors 

Ariella Coler-Reilly, Richard A. Howard 


COVID-19 vaccines were mostly tested on healthy people, excluding those suffering from disease. This means that we do not have much data on vaccine effectiveness or side effects for patients with systemic rheumatic diseases, like arthritis or lupus. 

Patients with rheumatic diseases may have unique concerns regarding vaccination. Rheumatic diseases may affect the functioning of the immune system, which could affect the body’s response to vaccination. Moreover, many medications used to manage rheumatic diseases also affect the immune system, so it may be beneficial to pause these medications around the time of vaccination. Of course, patients may be concerned about how pausing their medications will affect their symptoms; in particular, patients may worry they will experience a disease flare. 

The COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance is using a variety of methods to obtain more data on this subject, including conducting extensive international surveys like this one. 

What was done? 

The COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance surveyed adult patients with rheumatic diseases who received at least one dose of any COVID-19 vaccine. Surveyed patients were asked to report basic information such as: demographics (age, nationality, ethnicity, etc.), diagnoses, disease activity (ranging from remission to severely high activity), and medications. 

Surveyed patients were also asked about their experiences discussing vaccination with their healthcare providers. In particular, questions focused on whether patients were willing to pause their medications to potentially increase vaccine effectiveness.

Finally, patients were asked if they experienced side effects from the vaccine, including flares of their rheumatic disease symptoms… Keep reading on the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance website.

For more a complete list of COVID-19 GRA Plain Language Summaries, click here.