About IBD and COVID-19

Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and IBD? Read frequently asked questions and answers prepared by our physicians to learn more.

How Does COVID-19 Affect People with IBD?

Should you develop symptoms of COVID-19, please inform your physician as soon as possible.

  • IBD is often treated with drugs that target the immune system. Taking these medications does not definitively increase your chance of catching COVID-19 as far as we are aware. It is possible that you may be at higher risk for COVID-19 if you are taking immunosuppressive medications (steroids, thiopurines, methotrexate, tofacitinib and the biologic therapies listed below).
  • Currently, we do not know the effects these medications may have on COVID-19.
  • It is important to follow government recommendations to minimize your chance of contracting COVID-19. Read more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about how to reduce your COVID-19 risk.

What Are the Current Recommendations for Taking IBD Medications During the COVID-19 Crisis?

At present we do not recommend stopping any of your medication as a precaution — prescribed. Stopping your medications may lead to a flare of IBD that could require evaluation and hospitalization which may put your at higher risk for infection.

Contact your physician immediately if you have a concern about an active infection or fever.

If you are a healthcare professional on an immunosuppressive medication and you continue to have in-person patient interactions, please contact your gastroenterologist.

Below are additional recommendations for specific IBD medications:

  • Mesalamine/sulfasalazine (brand names include Asacol, Lialda, Apriso, Pentasa, Giazo and Colazal)
    • These do not suppress the immune system and should be continued, even if you develop symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Steroids (prednisone, budesonide)
    • Long term steroid use is not recommended in IBD. It is always a good idea to reduce steroid use if this is possible. However, if you develop symptoms of an infection or COVID-19 do not stop these abruptly as this can be dangerous.
  • Thiopurines (mercaptopurine or azathioprine), methotrexate and tofacitinib
    • For the moment, you should continue these medications. However, if you develop symptoms of an infection or COVID-19 you should contact your physician.
  • Self-Injected biologic therapy (adalimumab, golimumab and ustekinumab)
    • For the moment, you should continue these medications. However, if you develop symptoms of an infection or COVID-19 you should contact your physician.
  • Intravenous biologic therapy (Infliximab, vedolizumab and first dose of ustekinumab)
    • For the moment, you should continue to attend for your infusions. However, if you develop symptoms of and infection or COVID-19, please contact the infusion unit and your physician.
  • Infusions
    • We recommend you continue your infusions.
    • The Infusion Center will contact you the day before your infusion to ask whether you have symptoms of, or have had close contact with people with confirmed COVID-19.
    • The Infusion Center is taking the appropriate precautions to keep our patients safe. We regularly sanitize the room and the equipment between patients. In addition, our infusion nurses are wearing surgical masks and gloves at all times to help protect our patients. It is now recommended that patients also wear masks.

Be Aware of the Impact of Stress and Worry

Most people are experiencing an increase in stress and/or worry these days. It is important to care for our mental health in addition to our physical health. Read helpful Coronavirus stress management tips, or watch the video Living with IBD and coping with COVID-19.

If you need any additional support, please contact your gastroenterologist for a referral to psychology.

Understanding COVID-19 and IBD Care

Our center physicians have been at the forefront of understanding COVID-19 in patients with IBD and have written multiple recommendation guidelines on how to best care for patients. These guidelines are being used by physicians across the country. Learn more about COVID-19 and IBD care:

Additional Resources