COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for patients taking osteoporosis medications, according to joint guidance from six endocrine and osteoporosis societies and foundations.
They noted, though, that some timing modifications with certain medications should be considered to help distinguish between adverse events from the medication versus the vaccine.
The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research “is an international organization, so we brought together our sister societies that have a vested interested in bone health. Vaccination is happening worldwide, and we wanted to present a united front and united recommendations about how to handle osteoporosis medications appropriately during vaccination,” said Suzanne Jan De Beur, MD, who is president of ASBMR and an associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.
There has been quite a lot of concern from the community about vaccine and medications, from both physicians and patients wondering whether treatments and vaccines should occur in a certain order, and whether there should be a time gap between the two, said Dr. Jan De Beur. “There was a dearth of information about the best practices for osteoporosis treatment management during vaccination, and we didn’t want people missing their opportunity for a vaccine, and we also didn’t want them unnecessarily delaying their osteoporosis treatment.”
There is no evidence that osteoporosis therapies affect the risk or severity of COVID-19 disease, nor do they appear to change the disease course. Osteoporosis itself does not appear associated with increased risk of infection or severe outcomes, so patients with osteoporosis do not need to be prioritized for vaccination based on that condition alone.
There is no evidence that osteoporosis therapies affect the safety or efficacy of vaccination, but given that vaccine availability is currently inconsistent, patients may need to make temporary changes to their osteoporosis regimens to ensure they can receive vaccine when it is available, such as ensuring a delay between medication and vaccination injections.
A key reason for a delay between injectable or infusion medications and a vaccine is to distinguish between adverse events that could occur, so that an adverse reaction to vaccine isn’t mistaken for an adverse reaction to a drug. Nevertheless, the real world is messy. Dr. Jan De Beur noted a recent patient who arrived at her clinic for an injectable treatment who had just received a COVID-19 vaccination that morning. “We decided to put the injection in the other arm, rather than reschedule the person and put them through the risk of coming back. We could distinguish between injection-site reactions, at least,” she said.
No changes should be made to general bone health therapies, such as calcium and vitamin D supplementation, weight-bearing exercises, and maintenance of a balanced diet.
The guidance includes some recommendations for specific osteoporosis medications.
- Oral bisphosphonates: Alendronate, risedronate, and ibandronate should be continued.
- Intravenous bisphosphonates: a 7-day interval (4-day minimum) is recommended between intravenous bisphosphonate (zoledronic acid and ibandronate) infusion and COVID-19 vaccination in order to distinguish potential autoimmune or inflammatory reactions that could be attributable to either intravenous bisphosphonate or the vaccine.
- Denosumab: There should be a 4- to 7-day delay between denosumab infusion and COVID-19 vaccination to account for injection-site reactions. Another option is to have denosumab injected into the contralateral arm or another site like the abdomen or upper thigh, if spacing the injections is not possible. In any case, denosumab injections should be performed within 7 months of the previous dose.
- Teriparatide and abaloparatide should be continued.
- Romosozumab: There should be a 4- to 7-day delay between a romosozumab injection and COVID-19 vaccine, or romosozumab can be injected in the abdomen (with the exception of a 2-inch area around the naval) or thigh if spacing is not possible.
- Raloxifene should be continued in patients receiving COVID-19 vaccination.
Guidance signatories include ASBMR, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology, the Endocrine Society, the European Calcified Tissue Society, the National Osteoporosis Foundation, and the International Osteoporosis Foundation.
Dr. Jan De Beur has no relevant financial disclosures.