NPF COVID-19 Task Force: Masks, Social Distancing Still Important for Many Vaccinated Psoriasis Patients


In mid-May 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new public health recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals. These guidelines stated that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by law, business policy or workplace guidance. 

In response, the NPF COVID-19 Task Force has updated their guidance statements to provide additional clarity for people living with psoriatic disease. 

Since patients with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis may be taking medications that affect the immune system in a manner that may increase the risk of infections, they may not be fully protected even if fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Thus, out of an abundance of caution, and until more data emerge, NPF recommends that patients with psoriatic disease taking abatacept, cyclosporine, leflunomide, glucocorticoids (e.g., prednisone), methotrexate, or tofacitinib continue masking and social distancing precautions when they are in contact with people not vaccinated against COVID-19 or whose vaccination status is not verifiable.

Furthermore, the NPF Task Force advises against antibody testing to assess immunity after COVID-19 vaccination or to inform medical decision making related to individual precautions. Currently, the accuracy of antibody testing to predict protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 illness is not known. The Task Force advises those concerned about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines to refer to guidance 4.10 and 5.2.

“The NPF COVID-19 Task Force is excited about the release of the new CDC guidelines,” says Joel M. Gelfand, M.D., MSCE, Professor of Dermatology and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and Co-Chair of the NPF COVID-19 Task Force, in a news release. “It’s important to emphasize that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective, especially by dramatically lowering the risk of COVID-19 hospitalization and death, as well as reducing the ability of a vaccinated person to spread the virus. While emerging data suggest that some more broadly immune targeted treatments, such as methotrexate, may slightly reduce the antibody response to COVID-19 vaccines, patients on these treatments should still get vaccinated as they likely still provide protection from severe COVID-19 illness. Our recommendations are out of an abundance of caution until we have more data. While we await more research, the best way to prevent COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and if there is reason to be concerned that you might not have an optimal vaccine response due to the medications you are taking for psoriatic disease, then continue to mask and distance when you are in contact with people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19.”

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