Lupus and COVID-19
Last updated: February 2023
Since late 2019, COVID-19 has become a household name. It has changed many aspects of daily life, especially for those living with chronic conditions.
"Quarantine," "social distancing," and "herd immunity" are now familiar terms. While many restrictions have been lifted, this varies from place to place. Schools, offices, healthcare settings, travel, and social visits all have different guidelines. Standards for wearing face masks also vary for specific groups of people.1,2
Experts are still learning more about COVID-19. Research is ongoing to find out who is at high risk and how we can best protect them. And we have a robust set of effective vaccines. While different areas may have different rates of infection, we are making progress. Quick testing, isolation precautions, treatments, and vaccines are all part of the bigger picture.1
Vaccines became available starting in late 2020. Even more are in development. The first vaccines were approved under Emergency Use Authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This made safe and effective vaccines available faster.3
These vaccines get disease-fighting instructions to our cells in new ways. Some use messenger RNA technology. Others use different, harmless viruses. The most common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Other common side effects are tiredness, muscle aches, fever, and headache. While these are common side effects, experiences can vary by person, and you should always contact your doctor if you have concerns about your side effects.4,5
Living with lupus during the COVID pandemic
The pandemic has been especially hard for those with chronic health conditions. Thankfully, there are safe and affordable alternatives for conventional healthcare, such as telemedicine. These virtual appointments allow for basic check-ups without leaving the house.6
However, along with positive changes, there are downsides to virtual forms of healthcare. People who use them may get fewer screenings, have issues with technology, and lack necessary exercise. And for some, in-person visits are still crucial but have not happened. This has taken a toll on their overall health and ability to manage other conditions.7,8
Our community advocates have shared some of their experiences living with lupus in the time of COVID-19:
- My COVID-19 Experience
- Is it COVID or Lupus-Related? How to Work With Doctors to Really Get Proper Care
- Navigating High-Risk Pregnancy During COVID-19
- My Experience Getting the COVID Booster Shot
Self-care during the COVID pandemic
COVID-19 has also affected mental health. Many have experienced stress, depression, anxiety, and more. Isolation, job loss, and not being able to take part in hobbies all decrease wellness.7
Now, more than ever, self-care is needed. Finding ways to reset and find joy is key to coping. Many are seeing mental health providers to adapt to the effects of the COVID-19 era. Online counseling and support groups are also great tools for managing complex emotions.
Ultimately, self-care looks different from person to person. There is no right or wrong approach, as long as we keep making it a priority.
Our community advocates have shared how COVID-19 has impacted their mental health and emotional well-being:
- What a Tough Year Has Taught Us About Battling Lupus
- Depression Should Not Be a Dirty Word
- Self-Care During The COVID Pandemic
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you and your well-being? How are you coping? Tell us in the comments below.
Do you plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
How are you most likely to respond when someone offers you unsolicited advice about your lupus?