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COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance for People Living with MS


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Updated: June 30, 2023

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We encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccination against COVID-19 is critical for your safety, for public safety and, especially, for the safety of the most vulnerable among us. The risks of COVID-19 far outweigh any potential risks from the vaccines, but there may be special considerations for those living with multiple sclerosis. Consult your MS healthcare provider and see our guidance below.

For more in-depth information on the vaccines and MS:

COVID-19 vaccine guidance for people living with MS

Research is underway to learn more about the specific experience of people with MS receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. Our guidance is based on the currently available data on COVID-19 vaccines in people with MS and the general population. It is also based on studies of other vaccines administered to people with MS. We will update our guidance as more is learned from scientific studies of the vaccines.

This guidance applies to people with MS for the vaccines authorized or approved for use for their age in the United States.

People with MS should be vaccinated against COVID-19

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 outweigh any potential risks from the vaccine. In addition, members of the same household and close contacts should also be vaccinated against COVID-19 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/Latinx populations are among the groups with the highest risk for hospitalization due to COVID-19. Individuals in these high-risk groups are especially encouraged to get vaccinated.

If you’ve had COVID-19 and recovered, you should also get vaccinated. People who get vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19 infection are less likely to get infected again.  Even if you have been vaccinated, you need to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with MS

None of the available vaccines contain live virus and the vaccines will not cause COVID-19. The vaccines have been studied in large numbers of people with MS and they did not trigger an MS relapse. The risk of getting COVID-19 far outweighs any risk of having an MS relapse from the vaccine. Learn more about the different types of vaccines and how they work from the CDC.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe to use with MS medications

Continue your disease modifying therapy (DMT) unless you are advised by your MS healthcare provider to stop or delay it. Stopping some DMTs abruptly can cause severe increase in disability with new lesions developing. Based on data from previous studies of other vaccines and DMTs, getting the COVID-19 vaccine while on any DMT is safe. Some DMTs may make the vaccine less effective, but it will still provide some protection.
For those taking Briumvi, Kesimpta, Lemtrada, Ocrevus or Rituxan, you may consider coordinating the timing of your vaccine with the timing of your DMT dose. Work with your MS healthcare provider to determine the best schedule for you. Review our guidance for timing MS medications with these vaccines.

Staying safe following COVID-19 vaccination

The authorization of safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19 brings us one step closer to eliminating this pandemic. No matter which vaccine you get, it takes two weeks after being fully vaccinated before you are considered protected.

In addition to getting vaccinated, science shows that wearing a face mask in higher risk settings, like crowded areas with limited ventilation, and washing your hands are the best ways to slow the spread of the virus. Even after you’ve been vaccinated, people in high-risk groups and those taking a DMT that might reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines, should consider taking extra precautions. View CDC recommendations for protecting yourself and track COVID-19 hospitalization rates in your community.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe to get at the same time as other vaccines

The CDC has determined it is safe for you to get the flu vaccine and other vaccines at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.
Learn more about the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC.

Experts consulted in the development of this guidance

The National MS Society consulted the following experts in the development of this guidance:

MS neurologists and experts

  • Nancy Sicotte, MD, FAAN — Chair, National MS Society’s National Medical Advisory Committee, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USA
  • Brenda Banwell, MD — Chair, MS International Federation International Medical and Scientific Advisory Board (IMSB) — University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Amit Bar-Or, MD, FRCPC — President, International Society for Neuroimmunology, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Jorge Correale, MD — Raul Carrea Institute for Neurological Research, FLENI, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Anne Cross, MD, FAAN — Washington University and Secretary of Board of Governors of the Consortium of MS Centers, USA
  • Jaime Imitola, MD, FAAN — University of Connecticut, UConn Health, USA
  • Dorlan Kimbrough, MD — Duke University, USA
  • Avindra Nath, MD — National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, USA
  • Scott Newsome, DO, MSCS, FAAN, FANA — Johns Hopkins University and President of the Board of Governors of the Consortium of MS Centers, USA
  • Penny Smyth, MD, FRCPC — University of Alberta, Canada
  • Rachael Stacom, MS, ANP-BC, MSCN — Independence Care System, USA
Staff from MS Partner Organizations
  • Julie Fiol, RN, MSCN — National MS Society, USA
  • Pamela Kanellis — MS Society of Canada
  • Julie Kelndorfer — MS Society of Canada
  • Hope Nearhood, MPH, PMP — National MS Society, USA
  • Leslie Ritter — National MS Society, USA
This guidance is endorsed by the Consortium of MS Centers, the MS Coalition and other organizations:

Additional resources

Disease Modifying Therapy Guidance During COVID-19

Review current recommendations for those taking or considering disease modifying therapies during COVID-19.

Read More

Read More

La Esclerosis Múltiple y el COVID-19

Obtenga más información sobre las recomendaciones para el tratamiento de la esclerosis múltiple y las vacunas contra el COVID-19.

Busque Más

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© 2024 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.