Pandemic Flu A (H1N1) vaccination does not increase risk of getting MS

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the risk of MS in people vaccinated against pandemic influenza A (H1N1) with Pandemrix (GlaxoSmithKline, Middlesex, UK) compared with unvaccinated people over 8-10 months.

DESIGN: Study linking individualised data on pandemic vaccinations to an inpatient and specialist database on healthcare utilisation in Stockholm county.

SETTING: 1 024 019 were vaccinated against H1N1 and 921 005 remained unvaccinated.

RESULTS: Risks for multiple sclerosis remained unchanged.

CONCLUSIONS: Results for the safety of Pandemrix over 8-10 months of follow-up were reassuring -notably, there was no change in the risk for Guillain-Barré syndrome, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis. Relative risks were significantly increased for Bell’s palsy, paraesthesia, and inflammatory bowel disease after vaccination, predominantly in the early phase of the vaccination campaign. 

“A reassuring study showing that vaccination against pandemic influenza A does not increase your risk of getting MS. MS’ers with children or siblings, who are increased risk of getting MS, will find this information reassuring.”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

2 comments

  • I've had my first alemtuzumab dose several months ago. My MS nurse suggested that those on alemtuzumab or tysabri are at an increased risk of relapse if they have a flu jab, but it is an individual decision. A bit of a no win situation.

  • Re: "My MS nurse suggested that those on alemtuzumab or tysabri are at an increased risk of relapse if they have a flu jab."

    To the best of my knowledge this is not correct. The inactivate flu vaccine has been shown not to increase the risk of relapse or increase MRI activity. People on Alemtuzumab or Tysabri are even less likely to have a relapse as the therapies should be still working. I your situation I would recommend the vaccine.

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