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Multiple Sclerosis & COVID-19

What you need to know about COVID-19 risks, treatment guidance, vaccines and resources.

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No one has to face multiple sclerosis alone. We are here to provide the science-based answers you need to make informed decisions and feel supported while living in the age of COVID-19.

Updated: March 26, 2024

COVID-19 risk for people with MS

Current evidence shows that simply having MS does not make you more likely than the general population to develop COVID-19, become severely ill or die from the infection. However certain factors, including some disabilities that may result from your MS, have been shown to increase the risk of a severe case of COVID-19:

  • Progressive MS
  • Older age
  • Male sex
  • Black race
  • Using a mobility device or a wheelchair
  • Obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher)
  • Other chronic health conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, in addition to MS
  • Taking steroid medications
  • Taking certain disease modifying therapies called anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies (Ocrevus and Rituxan and biosimilars)

See guidance for timing MS medications with COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more about who is at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and check for updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

COVID-19 preparedness

You may have concerns about the future of COVID-19 and how to be ready if things change. Here is what you can do to stay prepared:

Contact your MS healthcare provider should you get diagnosed with COVID to see if treatment is recommended.

Pemgarda for pre-exposure prevention of COVID-19

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized Pemgarda as a medication to prevent COVID-19 in some individuals age of 12 years and older. This prevention medication is strictly for those who are unlikely to have adequate immune responses to the vaccine.

Individuals with moderate to severe immune compromise should receive COVID-19 vaccination
  • Vaccines have proven to be the best defense available against the COVID-19 complications of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including all its variants. 
  • Pemgarda is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom vaccination is recommended. 
  • Individuals who have recently received a COVID-19 vaccine should wait at least two weeks before getting Pemgarda.
People taking high dose steroids and biologic medications that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory, like B cell depleting therapies, are eligible to get Pemgarda

Studies of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine responses in people living with MS have shown a reduced or absent antibody response among those who use certain disease modifying therapies (DMTs). People with MS using the following DMTs may benefit from Pemgarda:

  • sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulators (Gilenya, Mayzent, Zeposia, Ponvory),
  • alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) treatment within the past 24 months and
  • anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies (Ocrevus, Kesimpta, Briumvi, Rituxan and biosimilars)

Pemgarda is not right for everyone. Like other medical decisions, the decision to take Pemgarda is best made in partnership with your healthcare provider. Talk to your MS healthcare provider to determine if Pemgarda is right for you. Learn more about Pemgarda and read the frequently asked questions (FAQ).

Pemgarda should be administered every three months

Pemgarda is given as a one-hour infusion into the vein. As COVID-19 variants continue to emerge, it is not yet known how effective Pemgarda will be against each variant. It is currently recommended to get Pemgarda every three months.


MS Relapses and COVID-19

Relapses are always a concern with MS and especially during COVID. Seek medical advice if you experience changes in your health that may suggest a relapse or another underlying issue, such as an infection. You may be able to manage your symptoms at home via telephone or video consultations.

During this time, use steroids only after careful consideration with a healthcare provider experienced in the treatment of MS and only for serious relapses. There is some evidence that receiving high-dose steroids in the month prior to contracting COVID-19 increases the risk of a more severe infection. If you receive steroid treatment for a relapse, be extra vigilant. You may want to consider self-isolating for at least a month.



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No One Has to Face MS Alone

From connecting with others affected by MS in your community to participating in fundraising events or giving financially – find your place in the MS movement.

Surveys and research studies are recruiting people affected by MS — those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and those who have not — to learn about their experience with COVID-19 and the impact of the vaccines.

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