All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for July 2003


July, 2003
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society

From The MS Information Sourcebook, produced by the National MS Society.

Many people with MS have concerns about the safety of routine vaccinations. Information is now available from a variety of sources that most vaccines are safe for people with MS.

Who should not be vaccinated?

Your doctor will know the general contraindications for each vaccine. For example, people with allergies to eggs may not receive the flu vaccine. However, people with MS have specific considerations:

  • People who are experiencing a serious relapse that affects their ability to carry out activities of daily living should defer vaccination until 4-6 weeks after the onset of relapse.
  • People who have received immune globulin preparation in the past three months should not receive live attenuated virus vaccinations, such as varicella or MMR (measles, mumps, rubella). Live attenuated vaccines are those whose biological activity has been reduced so that their ability to cause disease has been weakened but not totally inactivated.
  • People on therapies that suppress the immune system (immunosuppressants), such as mitoxantrone, azathioprine, methotrexate, cyclophosphamide and/or chronic corticosteroid therapy should not receive live, attenuated vaccines. A person with a suppressed immune system would be at greater risk for developing the disease. Note: Interferon medications and glatiramer acetate are not immunosuppressants; people who are taking any of these medications can be given all of the vaccines mentioned above.
  • Specific Recommendations Concerning the Smallpox Vaccine

    The smallpox vaccine has never been studied in people with MS, and concerns about smallpox in the U.S. developed after the Clinical Practice Guideline was completed. This vaccine, however, is used to prevent a serious, generally fatal illness, and should be made available to any person with MS who is exposed to smallpox because the risks associated with not getting vaccinated would be too great. Because of the serious adverse events that can occur with this vaccine, however, it is the recommendation of the Society's Chief Medical Officer that no person with MS be given it unless he or she has been directly exposed to smallpox.

    Copyright © 2003, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society