NAAF Statement on COVID-19 Vaccines and Alopecia Areata

Last Updated: May 11, 2022

COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and authorized use of the Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) vaccine. People who have alopecia areata or who are taking medications that affect the immune system have questions and concerns about what these developments mean for them. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) has gathered the following information and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our Research Advisory Councils about vaccine use in alopecia areata patients for the prevention of COVID-19.

  1. None of the approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.
  2. Currently, there are two COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States: Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. They both employ an innovative mechanism of vaccination using messenger RNA (mRNA), which tells our cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response to the virus. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work. A third vaccine from J&J/Janssen is also authorized for use. According to CDC, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are preferred over the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for primary and booster vaccination. To be considered up to date on vaccination, patients should have completed a primary vaccine series and one booster, when eligible.
  3. Patients with alopecia areata who do not have a known allergy to a vaccine component should receive a COVID-19 vaccine. People with autoimmune conditions such as alopecia areata or those who are taking immunosuppressant medications are not excluded from getting a vaccine. For patients taking medications that suppress the immune system, CDC recommends consulting with a healthcare provider about vaccination timing. Up-to-date vaccination is the best protection from severe illness and death from COVID-19. Data on patients with immunosuppressive conditions have not raised any evidence for contraindications or precautions for COVID-19 vaccination. 
  4. Many people with alopecia areata have raised concerns about potential adverse effects of vaccines on their condition. There are rare cases of vaccines effecting AA onset or severity reported, but the protective benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of COVID-19 in this condition. Please discuss vaccination with your physician.
  5. It is important that all people with alopecia areata have access to adequate and up-to-date care. This includes access to COVID-19 vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines are free; find a vaccination location at vaccines.gov.

NAAF continues to monitor reports and data on vaccines in the alopecia areata community. We encourage the alopecia areata community to check the CDC website regularly for the most up-to-date information, adhere to public health guidelines, and consult with a health care provider if infected with COVID-19.