Gout is a type of arthritis that can cause pain and swelling in your joints. It affects your big toes the most.

Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid, known as hyperuricemia. Gout usually manifests as sudden painful episodes (flares) that last from a few days to a couple of weeks followed by remission. Repeated flares of gout can lead to gouty arthritis, an advanced form of gout.

“Some people with gout avoid the vaccine because they are worried it will cause gout to flare up. Gout experts still strongly recommend not to opt out of the vaccine, even though it is true that some vaccines can increase your risk for a flare. Let’s figure out why.”

The data

Some vaccines can increase your risk for a gout flare in the days following the shot. For example, a shingles vaccine can slightly increase your odds of having a gout episode.

But what about COVID-19 vaccines? Can they make your gout flare up? Scientists from China decided to answer this question by studying 462 people with gout who received COVID-19 vaccines. Researchers discovered that 44 percent of study participants did experience a gout attack, usually within 1 month after receiving the shot. The good news is that colchicine, a common gout drug, decreased the chance of a flare almost in half in those who were on it when they received their shot.

Does this mean you should skip the shot?

“Don’t skip the shot. Here is why.”

An important thing to remember about this study is that it was done in China, which has different COVID-19 vaccines than the United States. Most people in this study received a vaccine called Sinovac Life, which is not used in the United States.

Additionally, this vaccine is based on an inactivated virus, while the most popular COVID-19 vaccines in the country, Pfizer and Moderna, are mRNA-based. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is based on an inactivated virus, but there is no data suggesting it could cause a gout flare.

“You don’t need to take colchicine before your vaccine appointment. If you decide to try it, you should speak to your doctor.”

If you are still undecided about getting a vaccine, remember that COVID-19 can be dangerous for people with gout.

Although gout doesn’t increase your chances of getting COVID-19, if you do get it, you may develop complications. This is because people with gout often have other health issues alongside with it, such as:

In addition, if you take corticosteroids (for example, prednisone) for gout flares, this can also contribute to more severe case of COVID-19.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccine boosters to everyone who received their first series. This is because the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines decreases over time.

If you catch COVID-19 after receiving a booster, you should be protected from a serious case. If you have gout, it is important to get a booster because you are more prone to COVID-19 problems.

To find out how soon you can get a booster, check the CDC website.

People can receive a second booster. If you are, make sure to schedule this appointment.

All of the vaccines approved in the United States do a good job of decreasing your chance for severe COVID-19, which you want to avoid if you have gout. However, the CDC now recommends either mRNA vaccine over the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This is due to higher effectiveness of this type of vaccine and fewer severe side effects.

Effectiveness of different types of vaccines was not studied specifically in people with gout. But a recent study — including over 5,000 people with rheumatic conditions from 30 different countries — showed that available COVID-19 vaccines are equally safe and effective.

Although gout is not a contraindication for any COVID-19 vaccines (meaning medications for gout do not decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine), people with certain additional medical conditions should not receive some or any COVID-19 shots:

  • people with a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to any of the components of either an mRNA or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should not receive that vaccine
  • Those who are allergic toPEG vaccines.
  • people allergic to polysorbate should not receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • those with allergies to any vaccine or injectable (intramuscular or intravenous) medication should consult with their doctor before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
  • anyone younger than 5 years old is not yet eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. This, however, may change soon.

If you have gout, you should get a vaccine to protect you from a serious disease. People with gout can develop problems from the virus that causes it.

“A recent study suggests that COVID-19 vaccines can cause gout flare ups, but this shouldn’t deter you from getting vaccine. The risk is low and potentially preventable, but the vaccines used in China aren’t used in the US.”