Can I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine If I Have MS?
Do you plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine? I do.
One is now available to some residents of the U.K., and approval in the U.S. of one or more likely will happen soon.
Though the U.S.-based National Multiple Sclerosis Society has said only that people with MS should consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the U.K.’s Multiple Sclerosis Society has issued specific vaccine guidance for people with MS.
A trio of COVID-19 vaccines
The vaccine approved by U.K. officials uses a messenger RNA (mRNA) model developed by the companies Pfizer and BioNTech. Two other vaccines are far along in the approval pipeline. One, produced by the company Moderna, also uses the mRNA model. The other, produced by the company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, is a viral vector vaccine.
All of these vaccine candidates seek to generate an immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. But they work differently.
The mRNA vaccines use a laboratory-made genetic code of the virus to produce the antigens to create an immune response. These vaccines are not based on a live virus.
Viral vector vaccines use a weakened version of a virus to generate that immunity. It’s not the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Rather, it’s a weakened, harmless version of an adenovirus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. It doesn’t cause disease in humans. It’s important for people with multiple sclerosis to realize that this is not the same as the live, or live-attenuated, virus vaccines that people with MS are generally advised to avoid.
How will the vaccines affect people with MS?
According to the U.K.’s MS Society, none of these COVID-19 vaccines are expected to cause a relapse or make someone’s MS worse. They’re also not expected to be dangerous to people who are taking disease-modifying therapies (DMTs).
On the other hand, the society’s website states that it’s possible that people on some immunosuppressive DMTs might have a reduced response to those vaccines, at least for a period after a vaccine injection.
It would be a good idea to speak with your healthcare team about coordinating the timing of DMT infusions with getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Will you get a COVID-19 vaccine?
I plan to get inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as I can, following approval in the U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also have said they will get vaccinated, along with three of the four living former U.S. presidents. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who is 96, issued a statement encouraging people to get vaccinated, but hasn’t yet said if he’ll get one, according to the Associated Press.
In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated he may receive the vaccine live on television, Forbes reported.
So, will you take a COVID-19 vaccine if given the opportunity, assuming your neurologist thinks it’s appropriate? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.