Coronavirus, Covid vaccine and MS
(Covid update February 17, 2022)
We continue to monitor the evolving corona virus epidemic (COVID-19) with the surge from the omicron variant now receding.
The medicines used for treating MS all affect the immune system but do not seem to reduce your ability to respond to an infection with the coronavirus. There are multiple studies with large numbers of infected MS patients on different treatments, and the risk of developing COVID-19 for MS patients does not appear to differ much from people without MS. The B cell depleting treatments (Ocrevus, rituximab) seem to modestly increase risk of severe infection. There is increased risk of severe infection with age, disability, and obesity.
COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters
People with MS should follow the vaccine recommendations from the CDC. We strongly recommend that everyone get vaccinated with one of the available covid vaccines and get a booster dose of the same vaccine after 6 months. There is not yet any recommendation on whether additional booster doses should be given. The vaccines were very effective in preventing infection with previous variants. The vaccines were also very effective in preventing severe disease and hospitalizations with the recent omicron variant. Almost all the people hospitalized with omicron were not vaccinated. Get the vaccine to protect yourself, your family, and your community.
Adverse effects from the vaccine have been minimal. So far, the side effects have been minor soreness at the injection site, malaise, and infrequent (about 1 in 100,000) allergic reactions. The allergic reactions occur shortly after the injection, and you are supposed to be monitored for 15 minutes after vaccination in case you need treatment. There are limited reports of MS patients getting relapses after vaccination. The number of relapses does not seem to be more than expected.
COVID-19 Vaccinations are available through UTHealth in multiple locations, with appointments and on a walk-in basis. Use the following link for complete hours and locations. https://www.utphysicians.com/covid19vaccine/
For more information, you can click on this link to the National MS Society’s recommendations: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/coronavirus-covid-19-information/multiple-sclerosis-and-coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine-guidance
Recommendation from the American Academy of Neurology: https://www.aan.com/policy-and-guidelines/policy/position-statements/aan-position-statement-on-covid-19-vaccination/
We are back to mostly in person visits, but telemedicine is an option if you are concerned about infection. This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will update this page as we get more information.
Patient Portal: https://med.uth.edu/neurosciences/patient-portals/ ***check these two links also***
If you do develop COVID-19 and continue to have symptoms you can also be seen in our COVID-19 Center of Excellence: https://www.utphysicians.com/uthealth-covid-19-center-of-excellence/