News in brief: Fatigue in RA drops with treatment; More support for patients with PsA; Mandatory vax for all healthcare staff in NSW

Fatigue in RA drops with treatment

Fatigue levels correlate with disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis reinforcing the need for early treatment.

A Norwegian study, comprising 205 patients with baseline fatigue managed with a treat-to-target approach, found a significant treatment response with improvements in fatigue corresponding to the reduction in disease activity.

“There was an overall rapid and sustained reduction in fatigue corresponding to the reduction in disease activity, and the majority of patients were in remission or low disease activity with no clinically relevant fatigue at 24 months,” the study said.

The proportion of patients with high fatigue scores dropped from 46% at baseline to 19% at 24 months and there was a corresponding increase in those with low or no fatigue from 31% at baseline to 62% at 24 months.

“However, patients who did not reach remission at 6 months were at risk of experiencing fatigue at the 2-year follow-up, which could be of importance to clinicians in identifying patients at risk of long-term fatigue.”

Annals of Rheumatic Disease

More support for patients with PsA

Arthritis Australia has launched an online hub MyPsA to help people with psoriatic arthritis better understand their condition and how to manage it.

MyPsA visitors will be able to build individually tailored profiles, access customised information about their condition, and link with relevant support services.

“MyPsA is a vital tool for helping those living with psoriatic arthritis to get a greater depth of knowledge on how to manage this complex condition,” said Arthritis Australia CEO Jonathan Smithers.

“We want every Australian living with psoriatic arthritis to have access to up-to-date news, information, and treatment options regardless of where they are on their journey or where they live around the country.”

“Along with consulting regularly with their rheumatologist, people with psoriatic arthritis should also have easy access to reputable sources of information so they can learn more about their condition, and MyPsA can offer them just that,” said Professor Susanna Proudman, a rheumatologist and Medical Director of Arthritis Australia.

The Australian Rheumatology Association has endorsed MyPsA. The site is largely funded by the Australian government with additional support from several pharmaceutical companies.

Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all healthcare staff: AMA

The AMA has called for a national mandatory vaccination regulation against COVID-19 for all healthcare staff after NSW led the way for staff in public and private hospitals.

Under a new Public Health Order, NSW health staff must have a first dose of vaccine by 30 September 2021 and be fully vaccinated by 30 November 2021, or at least have their second appointment booked or they will be excluded from the workplace.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said 80% of staff were already vaccinated and the new requirement was similar to existing mandatory vaccination requirements for frontline health staff for influenza, chicken pox, measles and pertussis.

“National Cabinet agreed in June to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for aged care workers, and NSW will now ensure the same protections exist for all our health workers,” he said.

“It will also ease pressure on our health system during this challenging time. More than 1,200 healthcare workers have been in isolation each day over the past seven days and we cannot afford that right now. Vaccinations will help ensure our fantastic staff can continue to care for patients.”

The AMA said mandatory vaccination rules should be put in place nationally for the workforce of the entire health care system including support staff.

With worrying numbers of COVID-19-infected frontline workers furloughed and unable to work, as well as several clusters being linked to hospitals,  AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said mandatory vaccines for health care workers are needed to sustain the health system into the future as Australia learns to live with COVID-19.

“We’ve said plans to reopen Australia will be a disaster unless our health sector is ready, and that will mean having a fully protected medical workforce,” he said.

“There is widespread uncertainty as to whether other occupations and workplaces can also mandate vaccinations. The law needs clarity to give employers and employees certainty.

“AMA proposes nationally consistent public health orders be issued by state and territory governments to provide legal protection to any employer who can also reasonably establish worker safety would benefit from a workplace vaccine mandate. Longer term, statutory coverage may be required.”

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