Does having epilepsy put me at increased risk from coronavirus?
Some research suggests people with epilepsy could have a slightly increased risk of getting seriously ill or dying from coronavirus. Because of this possible slight increased risk, people with epilepsy aged 16-64 were invited to receive the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than people without underlying health conditions.
Research by Public Health England shows that vaccination against COVID-19 is highly effective in people with underlying health conditions. So if you have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine you should have a high level of protection from getting ill with COVID-19. But no vaccine offers complete protection and cases are still high. As many restrictions end, it’s still important to follow the general guidance to help keep yourself and others safe. This includes meeting people outside or opening windows to let fresh air in if you meet indoors, wearing a face covering in crowded places and washing your hands regularly.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines safe for people with epilepsy?
The Association of British Neurologists says all COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with neurological conditions such as epilepsy. The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met the strict safety standards set by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA). So far, millions of people have received a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side-effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare.
COVID-19 vaccines are not expected to interact with epilepsy medicines. This means the vaccine should not affect how your medicines work, and your medicines should not affect the vaccine.
Like other vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild or moderate side-effects including fever. Not everyone will get side-effects, but if you do, most will go away after a few days. For some people with epilepsy, fever can make them more likely to have a seizure. If you are concerned about fever, the International League Against Epilepsy says that taking a fever-reducing medicine such as paracetamol for 48 hours after you have the vaccine reduces the risk. For most people, the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 infection far outweighs the risk of side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.
The MHRA has more information about the vaccines approved for use in the UK.
How can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
People with epilepsy aged 16-64 were included in one of the priority groups to receive the vaccine early, so most people with epilepsy should already have been invited to get the vaccine. If you are 18 or over and think you may have been missed, or haven’t booked your appointments yet, you can book now. For more information and to book your appointments for a first and second dose, visit the website for the place where you live:
People with epilepsy aged 16 and 17 are also eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, but online booking is not available in all parts of the UK for this age group. If you are in this age group and have not been invited to book a COVID-19 vaccination, contact your GP.
Source Epilepsy Action