Most researchers and national organizations recommend that people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) get all the recommended vaccinations. However, these individuals should seek the advice of a doctor first, as it may sometimes be necessary to pause MS medications before getting certain vaccinations.
People living with MS often need to take special precautions regarding their health. As a result, when it comes to vaccinations, a person with MS will need to know when to get a vaccine, whether it is generally safe, and how likely it will be to cause their condition to worsen.
According to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), a person living with MS should get vaccinations as part of staying healthy. The AAN recommends following the current recommendations and guidelines but notes the importance of discussing vaccines with a doctor before receiving them.
This article reviews the safety considerations regarding vaccines for people living with MS.
The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society strongly recommends that anyone living with MS get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. It notes that research has shown this vaccination to be safe and effective in preventing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The society also notes that it will update its guidance on the vaccination as more evidence of how it affects people living with MS becomes available. For now, existing research suggests that the vaccination is safe and effective for people living with MS.
For more advice on COVID-19 prevention and treatment, visit our coronavirus hub.
The flu vaccination comes in two forms: inactivated and live. Healthcare staff members administer the inactivated version via a shot in the arm, while people can take the live version in the form of a nasal spray.
The AAN advises that people with MS receive the flu vaccine every year.
A person should talk with a doctor about the best time for them to get the flu shot and whether and when they need to stop their medication.
The HPV vaccine can help prevent the most dangerous cases of HPV, which is the
Doctors recommend that a person receive this vaccine between the ages of
Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is a live attenuated strain of M. bovis bacteria. M. bovis is a type of tuberculosis that typically affects cattle, but it can also infect humans.
According to a 2017 review, BCG vaccination may also be an effective therapy for slowing the progression of MS. The researchers also noted that other studies suggest that the BCG vaccination may help with preventing MS in people at risk, but additional research is necessary to prove its preventive effect and better understand its therapeutic effect.
The hepatitis B vaccine helps prevent this liver infection.
According to the
Although the vaccine can cause some side effects, the CDC does not list MS as a risk factor for developing a reaction. Also, a 2020 study showed no association between yellow fever vaccination and MS, including that this preventive treatment does not cause worsening symptoms.
There is limited evidence on how exactly some other vaccinations affect people living with MS. However, despite the lack of studies, the National MS Society still recommends that people get the following vaccinations:
- Pneumococcal vaccines: Researchers recommend these vaccines for anyone over the age of 65 years and those living with MS who have an increased risk of lung infections.
- Varicella (chickenpox) vaccines: Researchers recommend these vaccines for anyone who is starting a new MS medication and does not know whether they have had previous chickenpox exposure.
- Smallpox vaccines: There have been no extensive studies of the smallpox vaccine in people living with MS, but experts recommend this vaccination in areas where an outbreak has occurred.
- Shingles vaccines: Researchers recommend two doses of the
Shingrixvaccine for people over the age of 50 years. There is no evidence to suggest that it would negatively affect a person living with MS.
Currently, there is no vaccination to prevent MS. However, researchers are working to develop one.
After partnering with Pfizer to help develop an mRNA vaccination for COVID-19, a German company called BioNTech recently tested an MS vaccine on mice. The scientists found in their study that the vaccination halted the progression of MS. Though the research gives reason to be hopeful, a lot more testing is necessary before a vaccine for MS becomes available for humans.
According to a review of studies, BCG vaccination may help prevent symptoms of MS from getting worse. It is unclear, however, whether it can help prevent MS from occurring in high risk populations.
Several studies have examined whether various vaccinations can cause MS.
For example, according to a
In short, earlier studies showed potential links between certain vaccinations and MS, but current studies show that no vaccinations will cause MS.
People living with MS should consider getting all the vaccinations that experts recommend for people of their age, taking any other risk factors into account. However, they should talk with a doctor before getting a vaccination in case they will need to pause their MS medication.
Vaccinations are generally safe and effective for people living with MS. Evidence that vaccinations cause or worsen MS is generally lacking.