FORT MYERS, Fla. — Dr. Ivan Samcam says studies show steroids used for treatment after major surgeries like spinal can suppress your immune system.
“With the Moderna vaccine or the Pfizer vaccine, the efficacy is around 95% after the second dose with steroid use that can go down. With that being said, we do use steroids in our injections, we use it for epidurals, spine injections, even knee injections and although we are doing targeted steroid therapy studies show that it can become systemic,” said Dr. Ivan Samcam, a pain physician at Advanced Pain Management and Spine Specialists.
For his patients at the Advanced Pain Management and Spine Specialists, Dr. Samcam and his team have come up with a plan to ensure patients are receiving the full protection of the COVID - 19 vaccine.
“Anybody who is going to have a vaccine within 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after the injection to stop steroid injections during the vaccine period,” said Dr. Samcam.
In the meantime, Dr. Samcam says there are alternatives for patients who still need relief from pain. However, if you are taking chronic steroids for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, it can affect the body.
“You’re decreasing the immune response, you're decreasing the chance of your B cells or your Lymphocyte white blood cells making those antibodies. In fact, studies do show those patients who have rheumatoid arthritis the longer they are on those steroids they are at increase risk for infections,” said Dr. SamCam.
Nonetheless, Dr. Samcam says if you need to have surgery that is going to save your life get it, but if you can wait until you are fully vaccinated do so.
“Make sure that if you are getting any type of joint injection, make sure you are not getting any type of steroid with that, but with steroid use make sure you are asking those types of questions,” said Dr. Samcam.