The following is a consensus statement developed by a committee of the NMSS including the CMSC in reaction to the new CDC guidance on COVID-19 vaccination boosters. The NMSS in collaboration with the CMSC is proud to provide all those affected by MS with evidence-based and timely updates.
Those age 18 and older who have received two doses of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna) will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster starting in September. The booster is expected to be available eight months after their second dose of the mRNA vaccine. People with MS age 12* and older who are fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine may be eligible to receive an additional vaccine dose now. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get your additional dose.
* Only the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is authorized for age 12 and older
The following guidance is based on available data from studies and expert consensus opinion.
The FDA and CDC have issued a pause on the administration of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine to give experts time to investigate reports of an extremely rare condition. It does not appear that there is any additional risk for those living with multiple sclerosis, and the Society’s COVID-19 vaccine advisory group will continue to monitor safety data.
March 19, 2021
Question: How do patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who have COVID-19 fare and are there patient and disease characteristics associated with worse outcome?
Findings: In this registry-based cross-sectional study of 1626 North American patients with MS and COVID-19 infection, ambulatory disability, both nonambulatory and requiring assistance to walk, was independently associated with increased odds of poor clinical severity levels after adjusting for other risk factors. Other factors including older age, male sex, Black race, cardiovascular comorbidities, and corticosteroid use in the past 2 months were associated with increased odds of increasing clinical severity compared with those not requiring hospitalization or worse.
Meaning: Identification of risk factors can improve the treatment of patients with MS and COVID-19 by alerting clinicians of patients requiring more intense treatment or monitoring.
March 3, 2021 - The National MS Society and the Consortium of MS Centers led a discussion of COVID-19 vaccines and MS. We reviewed vaccine safety, efficacy and considerations for timing the vaccine with certain disease modifying therapies.
Nancy Sicotte, MD, Chair of the National MS Society’s National Medical Advisory Committee, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Scott Newsome, DO, President of the Board of Governors of the Consortium of MS Centers, Johns Hopkins University
Rachael Stacom, ANP-BC, Independence Care System
Based on expert consensus and available data, we offer the following guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccination for people on MS disease modifying therapies (DMTs).
The Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are safe for people with MS and they are safe to use with MS DMTs1. Most DMTs are not expected to affect the responses to the Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, though some (see details below) may make the vaccines less effective and coordinating the timing of vaccine administration with these DMTs may provide the best vaccine response2.
Given the potential serious health consequences of COVID-19 disease, getting the vaccine when it becomes available to you may be more important than optimally timing the vaccine with your DMT.
The decision of when to get the COVID-19 vaccine should include an evaluation of your risk of COVID-19, including your occupation, and the current state of your MS. Work with your MS healthcare provider to determine the best schedule for you. If the risk of your MS worsening outweighs your risk of COVID-19, do not alter your DMT schedule and get the vaccine when it is available to you.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is critical for public safety and, especially, the safety of the most vulnerable among us. Get your vaccine as soon as it is available to you. If you have MS, visit nationalMSsociety.org/covid19 to learn the latest about COVID-19 vaccines and MS.
People living with multiple sclerosis (MS) are seeking peace of mind on the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines. In response, the Society convened a group of expert researchers and medical professionals to review the available science and make fact-based recommendations.
We do not know how many people in the vaccine clinical trials had MS, so data on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in those with MS is not yet available. Our guidance is based on data from the general population in the vaccine clinical trials and data from studies of other vaccines in MS. Our guidance will be updated and become more detailed as more is learned from scientific studies of the vaccines.
This guidance only applies to the approved mRNA vaccines in the United States, Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna. As there are different vaccines available in other countries, this guidance may not apply to those living outside of the US.
The science has shown us that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Like other medical decisions, the decision to get a vaccine is best made in partnership with your healthcare provider. Most people with relapsing and progressive forms of MS should be vaccinated. The risks of COVID-19 disease outweigh any potential risks from the vaccine. In addition, members of the same household and close contacts should also get a COVID-19 vaccine when available to decrease the impact of the virus.
People with progressive MS, those who are older, those who have a higher level of physical disability, those with certain medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart and lung disease, pregnancy), and Black and Hispanic populations are among groups with the highest risk for hospitalization due to COVID-19. Individuals in these high risk groups are especially encouraged to get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you.
These COVID-19 vaccines require two doses. You need to get both doses for it to work. If you’ve had COVID-19 and recovered, you should also get the vaccine. We don’t know how long someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again.
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