THE Lupus Foundation of Jamaica says a number of lupus patients are still holding off on being vaccinated against COVID-19 because they are waiting to have questions answered or to get permission from their doctors.
In a release yesterday, the foundation said that accessing their doctors has become more difficult with the recent surge affecting operations of both public and private clinics.
“There is conflicting information about COVID-19 and the vaccines, confusing even for the general population,” said Dr Desiree Tulloch-Reid, consultant rheumatologist and president of the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica.
She added: “Patients with autoimmune conditions are in a special situation because they have an immune system that is overreactive in some ways, and yet is less effective with coping with infections. In addition, many medications for lupus also suppress the immune response in order to control the disease.
“Persons with lupus will naturally have many questions, and so it is important for lupus patients to be empowered with the knowledge and information they need to make better and more timely choices. However, based on the evidence, we are strongly encouraging all lupus patients to get vaccinated as soon as possible — with any of the vaccines currently available.”
Dr Tulloch-Reid and colleagues are among several specialist physicians and other health professionals who volunteer with the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica, monitoring the latest research and contributing to educational materials and programmes disseminated through its various platforms as they keep both health professionals and patients informed during the pandemic.
Patients and the public are invited to view educational programming and information provided on the foundation's YouTube channel, website and social media channels or contact the foundation's learning centre or help line for further information.
The foundation, meanwhile, urged people with lupus to become members of the foundation in order to benefit further from monthly newsletters and support group meetings, WhatsApp group interaction, pharmacy discount programmes, free counselling and other benefits to help them manage their condition.
The Lupus Foundation of Jamaica is a member-based, volunteer-run charity in operation since 1984 and is dedicated to improving the lives and outcomes of persons with lupus through information, support, advocacy and research.