Vaccine Safety in MS


The safety issues for MS are similar to the the issues of the general population but one issue to be aware of is Uhthoffs phenomenenon. This is where an increase in temperature can cause demyelinated nerves to transiently stop firing. One of the side effects of vaccines can be fever and so this will raise temperature and so could cause some symptoms to transiently worsen.

However, I am sure you all know this by now as you have all had the Jab if you live in the UK. Remember this when the Boosters come round towards the end of the year

Safety of the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine in Multiple Sclerosis: Early experience from a tertiary MS Center in Israel.Lotan I, Wilf-Yarkoni A, Friedman Y, Stiebel-Kalish H, Steiner I, Hellmann MA.Eur J Neurol. 2021 Jul 21. doi: 10.1111/ene.15028. Online ahead of print.

Background: Although the COVID-19 vaccines are currently recommended for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), the fact that they were not specifically tested in people with MS raises uncertainty regarding the safety of the vaccines in this population. The purpose of this study is to report real-life safety data of the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine in a cohort of MS patients.

Methods: An anonymous survey was distributed to 425 MS patients. Participants were asked general demographic and disease-related questions and specific questions regarding the safety profile of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Results: 262 of 425 MS patients completed the questionnaire. The median age was 42 years (range 22-79 years); 199 were females (75.9%), and 66 participants (25.2%) had associated comorbidities. 198 participants (75.6%) were treated with disease-modifying therapies (DMTs). 239 participants (91.2% of the responders) received the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine. Of these, 182 (76.1%) were < 55 years old, and 57 (23.9%) were > 55 years old. 136 participants (56.9%; 52.5% of those <55 years of age and 40.3% of those > 55 years; p=0.1517) reported adverse events. 36 participants (15.1%) reported new or worsening neurological symptoms following the vaccination, the most frequent being sensory disturbances (21 participants, 58.3%). Most symptoms occurred within the first 24 hours after vaccination and resolved within three days. 28 participants (77.8%) didn’t require any medication to treat their symptoms.

Conclusions: This survey indicates an overall favorable safety profile of the BNT162b2 vaccine in people with MS. These data should be confirmed in further prospective, large-scale studies.

Disclaimer: Please note that the opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the positions of the Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry nor Barts Health NHS Trust or Queen Mary Univeristy of London.

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  • This doesn’t make sense

    136 participants (56.9%; 52.5% of those 55 years; p=0.1517) reported adverse events. 36 participants (15.1%) reported new or worsening neurological symptoms following the vaccination

    Yet the conclusion says it has a favourable safety profile?

    • Pfizer made me tired (literally slept two hours in the afternoon both times) and kind of shaky and out of it for a few days after both jabs.

      That would probably already qualify as neurological symptoms.

  • It’s been said before, but so many MS research dollars have been wasted on exploring every tiny detail of Covid… I worry this is going to set us back by years.

    • Have they really? In the UK there has been no grant round completed since before 2019….however time wasted yes indeed….It is going to set people back years

    • Quite right…get the vaccine and let’s move on. COVID perpetuation is becoming an humanitarian disaster. When I read that Japan only has a 23% vaccination rate with the olympics on it’s doorstep it was shocking. We are our own worst enemies.

  • Adverse reaction to 2nd dose of AstraZeneca BUT would definitely have a booster shot if recommended

    I had no reaction to the first dose of AstraZeneca. However the second dose put me in hospital for 2 days. 13 hours after i received the dose, I developed a fever (38.8), quickly lost all use of my lower legs and arms, had excruciatingly painful continuous spasm and cramping in my lower body and developed enormous difficulty breathing. I was taken to hospital by ambulance where I received the max dose of morphine. The ambo noted my legs were rippling.
    All the function I lost returned over the next 3 days. Two weeks later, my lungs are still tight, the numbness in my feet is worse than before and my right arm is weaker. All the problems I experienced were the same as I normally experience, but much, much more exaggerated.
    The neurologist who attended me in hospital believed it to be a reaction to the vaccine and not an MS exacerbation.
    It was frightening.
    I would definitely have a booster shot if recommended. I believe getting COVID would be way worse than my reaction. I am hoping to be offered Moderna.
    I have had RR MS for 25yrs. I am 51yrs old.
    I live in Melbourne, Australia. I attended Royal Melbourne Hospital.

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