NAAF Statement on COVID-19 Vaccines and Alopecia Areata

Last Updated: February 10, 2021

Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorization for the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, 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 authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines or COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States 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 authorized for use in the United States: Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. They both employ an innovative mechanism of vaccination using messenger RNA (mRNA), which tell our cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response to the virus. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.

  3. Patients with alopecia areata who do not have a known allergy to a vaccine component should receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them based on federal, state, and local guidance. People with autoimmune conditions such as alopecia areata or who are taking immunosuppressant medications are not excluded from getting a vaccine.

  4. Trials to date have not included people who are taking drugs that affect the immune system or people who are pregnant and thus the effects of the vaccines in these specific populations will need to be established. People with well-controlled HIV infection were included. There is no data on vaccine effectiveness in people who are taking immunosuppressant medication—which dampens the immune system response—but vaccination is still recommended once it is available.

  5. Many people with alopecia areata have raised concerns about potential adverse effects of vaccines on their condition. However, there is no evidence that vaccines affect alopecia areata onset or severity. Data should be collected to inform whether COVID-19 vaccines have any positive or negative effects on alopecia areata outcomes.

  6. It is important that all people with alopecia areata have access to adequate care. This includes access to COVID-19 vaccines.

NAAF continues to closely monitor the evolving situation. 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.