Immunizations and MS
People with MS are able to receive many of the immunizations that people without the disease receive. However, if you are experiencing a flare-up of the disease, or are taking drugs that suppress the immune system, you should not be vaccinated. Your doctor will be familiar with the accepted guidelines for immunizations and MS.
Immunizations, also known as vaccinations (or vaccines), are commonly given to people to protect them against serious illness. When a person receives a vaccine, it causes the body's defenses (the immune system) to make certain protective proteins. These proteins (called antibodies) circulate in the bloodstream to protect against the disease the vaccine is named after. For example, a flu vaccine causes you to make antibodies to protect against the flu.
Medical research has concluded that it is safe for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) to receive certain immunizations.
Immunizations that are safe for people with MS include:
Sometimes, you should delay becoming vaccinated. If you are having a serious MS episode or disease flare-up (also called a relapse) and have trouble doing daily activities, you should talk to your doctor and wait at least four weeks after the relapse before receiving any vaccinations.
If you are receiving drugs that suppress your immune system, you should not be vaccinated. Some vaccines are considered "live." If you are given a live vaccine and your immune system is suppressed, you may actually get the disease that the vaccination is designed to protect you from. (Please note: interferon drugs and Copaxone® are not immune system suppressors. It is safe to be vaccinated if you take these drugs for MS).
Talk with your healthcare provider about immunizations and MS. If you or the person you care for has MS, you should not hesitate to discuss this. Your doctor will be familiar with the accepted guidelines for immunizations and MS.