Humira vs. COVID-19

Last updated: November 2021

My rheumatologist put me back on Humira for the third time a while ago and I still haven't started it. I know, it's bad that I'm not being compliant with taking my medication, but even after having my third booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine in August, I'm still really afraid to go back on this powerful immunosuppressant.

Concerns about Humira and COVID-19 risk

My rheumatologist keeps reassuring me that I should be OK and protected enough to take the medication after having 3 vaccinations, but something in my gut keeps telling me to hold off on it. However, I don't know if this is my anxiety "speaking" to me or my actual gut giving me some kind of spooky COVID-19 instinct. It's probably the anxiety, I realize, but I'm still afraid to take the drug.

Letting my RA get out of control isn't a good option

Not taking the drug, however, is also not a good option. My RA is flaring up again: both hands, wrists, shoulders, feet, ankles, jaw. The bursitis in both of my hips is also flaring and so is my fibromyalgia.

I haven't been taking ANY immunosuppressant medications for months, amazingly. But, even with strict dietary changes (that do help me), the inflammation in my body is obviously ramping up and causing total body pain and a lot of swelling. Letting my RA get out of control isn't a good option either, although I'd rather not get COVID-19 if I had to choose between the two.

Increased risk with my new job

Another reason for my Humira hesitancy (or any immunosuppressant drugs) is that I started a new job that involves working with the public, and many of these customers do not wear masks (which infuriates me). I also found out that my direct supervisor is unvaccinated.

On my first day meeting her, the question somehow flew out of my mouth: "Are you vaccinated?" When she said "no," I went into an obvious and slightly embarrassing panic mode. WHAAAT?! You're NOT! Oh no! This then led to a very awkward moment of her giving me some major side-eye and quietly saying, "I have my reasons." She got her message across quite clearly: Don't talk about it again.

And I haven't, yet my stress and anxiety levels have increased significantly since I found out this information, and it's making the decision of what to do about starting Humira even more difficult. I did go and speak with another manager who said he was going to talk to his boss, but I haven't heard anything back yet, and I haven't had time to talk with him more about it.

Maybe I'll have to get transferred to another location. Or, hopefully, President Biden's mandate of companies with 100+ employees requiring their employees to either get vaccinated or have weekly COVID-19 tests will actually go into effect in the near future. I hope so much that my company will comply with this mandate ASAP.

In the meantime, what do I do about taking the Humira? I know I should listen to my doctor and start it, yet there's still a part of me that is just so scared of getting a bad case of COVID-19 while on any immunosuppressant medication. I'm also afraid of possibly transmitting it to other people if I get it. Like my dad, who has incurable prostate cancer. Or my 3 little nieces who are too young to get vaccinated. Or my mom. Or ANYBODY.

Will Humira work for me again?

Unrelated to the pandemic, there's also the question of whether or not Humira will work for me again. It worked well the first time I had it in 2007. The second time, a few years ago at least, it did not work and I switched to a different biologic.

But, at the end of the day, I know I should take it. I don't want any more permanent joint damage to happen to my body. And I'm now finding it difficult to function and even sleep because of the constant, full-body pain. My rheumatologist also told me that regarding COVID-19, it's safer for me to be on Humira than a steroid such as prednisone.

I can't believe that I keep procrastinating

I need to finally just "bite the bullet," or jab the injector pen into my leg or stomach, I should say. I just really wish my supervisor would get vaccinated. I desperately wish that EVERYONE would get vaccinated and get their booster shots if they qualify. And that everyone would correctly (no noses hanging out!) wear masks and follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

When I stop to think about it, I can't believe that I keep procrastinating with taking the Humira. If not for the pandemic (and this new job), there's no WAY that I'd be hesitating. This pandemic affects those of us with autoimmune diseases and compromised immune systems in so many ways and areas of our lives. We shouldn't be put in the position of feeling panicky and afraid to take our much-needed medications or terrified that we'll end up in the ER because someone who is against vaccines or masks breathed on us.

Soon, Humira, I will shoot you into my leg. I promise. I think?

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