Is the flu vaccination safe for people with thyroid disorders?

The flu vaccination programme is very well thought through and we are fortunate in the UK to live in a part of the world where vaccinations are freely available.

Having a thyroid disorder (whether it is an autoimmune disease or not) is not generally considered to give you an increased risk of developing seasonal flu compared to any other member of the general population. You are unlikely to be offered the free flu vaccine unless you fall within one or more of the following categories who are at greater risk of complications from the flu. More information about who is eligible for the free seasonal flu vaccine in your region is available at:

    NHS England

    Public Health Scotland

    NHS Wales

    Health and Social Care Northern Ireland

    HPV vaccine 

    Teenage girls are now routinely offered the HPV vaccine which protects women against developing cervical cancer. There is no reason why a girl who has been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder should not be given this important vaccination.

    Covid vaccines and thyroid disorders

    We know that many patients have questions about the new vaccines which are being rolled out to protect people against Covid. Below we have answered some of the common concerns.

    Will I be a priority for receiving a Covid-19 vaccine because I have a thyroid disorder?

    The UK government is rolling out its vaccination programme to the most vulnerable first, starting with care home residents and staff. This is being followed by hospital staff and the very elderly with the under 50s being in the least priority group. Having a thyroid disorder in itself does not put you in a high priority group for the vaccination. Having an autoimmune thyroid disorder does not mean you are immunocompromised. The part of the immune system that's responsible for autoimmune thyroid disease is separate to the immune system that's responsible for fighting off infections, such as Covid-19.

    If you are on immunosuppressive drugs, including steroids for thyroid eye disease, this puts you in a higher risk category and you may be offered it before other groups. Similarly, if you are undergoing treatment with multi-kinase inhibitors (such as Lenvatinib or Sorafenib) or chemotherapy for thyroid cancer you would be in a higher risk category and may be offered the vaccine sooner. Your oncology team can provide further advice. More details on priority groups are available here JCVI: updated interim advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    Is it safe for me to have the vaccine?

    Like all vaccines, the Covid-19 vaccines are subject to rigorous testing from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This body has given its approval for the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to be rolled out in the UK. Clinical trials and vaccines have been carried out on thousands of patients and reports of serious side effects i.e. allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.  As with other vaccination programmes, there is no known reason why someone with a thyroid disorder should not have the vaccine. Since thyroid disorders are common it is certain that the clinical trials have included patients with thyroid diseases and no significant adverse effects have been observed. We await the full publication of the trial results to find out in detail about the patients with thyroid disorders that have been studied in these trials.

    Will the vaccine make me ill?

    The Covid-19 vaccines are not live vaccines i.e. do not contain any of the Covid-19 virus. Some people will suffer mild symptoms, such as muscle aches or a slightly raised temperature following vaccinations. This is the body's response to the vaccine and is not caused by the disease itself. If you are concerned about allergies, you can find a full list of any ingredients in any approved vaccine here Browse medicines starting with A - (emc)

     

    More information can be found at:

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk) 

    Why vaccination is safe and important - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

    Covid vaccines: Who decides if they are safe? - BBC News

    JCVI: updated interim advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

    Society for Endocrinology Statement on COVID-19 vaccines: Information for patients with endocrine conditions and diabetes mellitus

    Updated 27 January 2020

    If you have any particular concerns about your vaccinations you should always discuss these with your doctor.

    More information on living with thyroid disorders is available here. Many patients also find our network of volunteer telephone contacts and local support groups a valuable resource.

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