Rheumatology is a medical specialty that cares for conditions which affect the musculoskeletal system, particularly the joints and surrounding soft tissues.

We look after patients with inflammatory arthritis, connective tissue diseases such as Lupus, Osteoporosis, Vasculitis, Osteoarthritis and soft tissue rheumatic complaints.

Many of the conditions treated are linked with the immune system attacking different body tissues.

Coronavirus Vaccination Programme in Northern Ireland: Update February 2022

Patients currently being prescribed biologic drugs (see list below) for a rheumatological disorder who have had three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are now eligible for a booster dose three months after receipt of their third dose, in light of the latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).  We would strongly urge patients in this group to take up this offer of a booster dose if it has been three months from receipt of your third primary dose (unless you had a very severe reaction to the previous dose of the vaccine, in which case you should discuss with your doctor).

Patients are advised that there would be no need to stop their current biologic/ DMARD/ steroid therapies to accommodate the vaccination.

For patients who are due for Rituximab therapy they will need to have received both doses of their coronavirus vaccine ahead of their planned treatment.

Please note that you must make arrangements to get this vaccine dose yourself – you will not be contacted by the vaccination centre as before.

You can make the booking at a vaccination centre of your choice via the following link – Get a COVID-19 vaccination in Northern Ireland | nidirect and https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/

If you have still not taken up the offer of a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine it is still not too late to make the necessary arrangements using the link mentioned above.

For more information about the coronavirus vaccine, visit the Public Health Agency website – www.pha.site/COVID19infomaterials.

If you are currently on biological therapy you will have received an official letter from the trust to recommend that you arrange a fourth dose of the vaccine. You must bring this letter with you as proof of eligibility for your fourth / booster dose, along with your ID and vaccination card.

Antibody Treatments for COVID infection

Please note that if you do develop COVID-19 symptoms it is vital that you get a PCR test as soon as possible.  Some severely immunocompromised patients may be eligible for additional treatments that reduce the chance of becoming unwell with COVID-19.  If you fall into this group, and have a positive PCR test, you should be contacted by a member of the medical staff in Antrim Area Hospital (please note this is not being dealt with by the Rheumatology Department directly) within the first few days of your positive result to discuss potential options which may be suitable for you.

BIOLOGIC drugs include drugs such as Etanercept (Enbrel, Benepali), Adalimumab(Humira, Imraldi, Amgevita) Infliximab, Golimumab (Simponi), Certolizumab (Cimzia), Tociluzimab (RoActemra), Abatacept (Orencia), Belimumab (Benlysta), Anakinra (Kineret), Secukinumab (Cosentyx), Ixekizumab (Taltz), Ustekinumab (Stelara) ,Baracitinib (Olumiant), Tofacitinib (Xeljanz) Sarilumab (Kevzara), Rituximab (Mabthera)

Rheumatology Advice Line

We offer a telephone and email advice service for patients who are under the care of a Rheumatology Consultant in the Northern Trust who have been diagnosed with an inflammatory condition.

The advice service is run by trained nurses who specialise in Rheumatology.  If you need urgent advice, or advice not related to your rheumatology condition, you should contact your GP.

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