A COVID-19 Vaccine
The United Kingdom has become the first country to approve and authorize delivery of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, developed by Pfizer and partner BioNTech. The companies have signed an agreement to supply 40 million doses to the UK. This is an exciting scientific achievement and will help the global community in fighting the global pandemic.
Living Well With Epilepsy readers are concerned about how the COVID-19 vaccine will affect people with epilepsy. We’ve put together a few answers to some frequently asked questions here to help ease your mind a bit.
People with epilepsy and access to the COVID-19 vaccine
According to the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice on who should have priority to get the COVID-19 vaccine, people aged 16-64 with epilepsy should be included in one of the priority groups in phase one of the vaccine distribution.
The priority groups are as follows:
|Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
|All those 80 years of age and over
Frontline health and social care workers
|All those aged 75 and over
|All those aged 70 and over
Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age)
|All those aged 65 and over
|People aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk. People with epilepsy are included in this group.
|All those aged 60 and over
|All those aged 55 and over
|All those aged 50 and over
COVID-19 vaccine and epilepsy medications
According to Epilepsy Action, the vaccine has been approved as safe by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The NGO is not aware of any safety concerns for people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy Action asked MHRA about the risk of a COVID-19 vaccine interacting with any medicines, including epilepsy medicines, and the NGO was told the risk is very low.
People with epilepsy and an increased risk from coronavirus
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that people with epilepsy could have a slightly increased risk of being admitted to hospital or dying from coronavirus. It’s important to note that the study does not show whether epilepsy itself causes this increased risk, or whether the risk is linked to other factors that could affect people with epilepsy.
As such, it is important to keep yourself safe by following guidance on social distancing, washing your hands and wearing a face mask if you are able to.
If I catch coronavirus could it trigger a seizure?
Some people with epilepsy are more likely to have a seizure when they are feeling sick. This is particularly true when if people with epilepsy have an illness with a high temperature or a fever. Since fever is a symptom of coronavirus, it stands to reason this spike in temperature could trigger seizures for some people with epilepsy.
For most people with epilepsy, a seizure is not a medical emergency and does not need hospital treatment. However, if you are at risk of status epilepticus, make sure you have an up-to-date emergency care plan from your epilepsy specialist.
Learn more about rescue medications.