The advice issued Tuesday by the U.S.-based National Multiple Sclerosis Society about COVID-19 vaccination couldn’t be clearer: “Get your vaccine as soon as it is available to you.”
New MS Society guidelines say that the two COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S., both of which use an mRNA model, are “safe and effective.” The risk of contracting severe COVID-19 far outweighs any potential vaccination risks, they added. The two mRNA-based vaccines currently available in the U.S. are made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
The guidelines state that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with all forms of MS. They’re particularly important for older people with MS, people with progressive MS, those with a high level of physical disability, those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, or heart and lung disease, pregnant women, and Black and Hispanic populations.
COVID-19 vaccine FAQs
Are the mRNA vaccines “live” vaccines?
No, and they will not cause COVID-19.
Will the vaccines cause a relapse or increase your symptoms?
It’s unlikely. The vaccines might cause a fever, which may exacerbate some MS symptoms, but symptoms should ease when the fever is reduced.
How will the vaccine affect my disease-modifying therapy (DMT), and vice-versa?
The National MS Society recommends continuing your DMT unless your healthcare provider says otherwise. Some DMTs may make the vaccine less effective, but it will still provide some protection.
If you’re being treated with Kesimpta (ofatumumab), Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), Mavenclad (cladribine), Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), or Rituxan (rituximab), you may need to coordinate the timing of your vaccine with the timing of your DMT dose.
The recommendations were created by a group of 11 MS experts and are endorsed by the Consortium of MS Centers, along with 10 other MS organizations. They follow, by about a month, similar recommendations issued by the U.K.’s MS Society.
Are you ready to get a vaccine?
I wrote an “MS Wire” column detailing the U.K. guidelines last month. More than 65 people have commented on that column, and most can’t wait to receive a vaccine. They understand that, as the new National MS Society recommendations state, “vaccination against COVID-19 is critical for public safety and, especially, the safety of the most vulnerable among us.”
Yet, a handful of commenters wrote things like, “I am not sure if I will take it even if my doctor recommends this because it scares me that vaccine was made so fast also I heard several doctors state they will not know how long this vaccines lasts and if it will keep people from getting the virus.”
I’ve always believed that treatment decisions are individual and best made as a collaboration between patient and doctor. I continue to believe this. But I hope the MS Society’s statements that the COVID-19 vaccine is “safe and effective” and “critical for public safety” will weigh heavily in your decision. I hope you will follow their advice to get one “as soon as it is available to you.”
I know I will.
You’re invited to follow my personal blog at www.themswire.com.
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.
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