Safety of the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine in multiple sclerosis (MS): Early experience from a tertiary MS center in Israel

Itay Lotan*, Adi Wilf-Yarkoni, Yitzhak Friedman, Hadas Stiebel-Kalish, Israel Steiner, Mark A. Hellmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and purpose: Although the COVID-19 vaccines are currently recommended for people with multiple sclerosis (MS), the fact that they were not specifically tested in people with MS raises uncertainty regarding their safety in this population. The purpose of this study was to report real-life safety data of the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine in a cohort of MS patients. Methods: An anonymous survey was distributed to 425 MS patients. Participants were asked general demographic and disease-related questions and specific questions regarding the safety profile of the COVID-19 vaccine. Results: Of the 425 MS patients, 262 completed the questionnaire. The median (range) participant age was 42 (22–79) years, 199 participants were women (75.9%), and 66 participants (25.2%) had associated comorbidities. A total of 198 participants (75.6%) were treated with disease-modifying therapies. In all, 239 participants (91.2% of the responders) had received the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine. Of these, 182 (76.1%) were aged <55 years, and 57 (23.9%) were aged >55 years. Adverse events were reported by 136 participants (56.9%; 52.5% of those aged <55 years and 40.3% of those aged >55 years; p = 0.1517) and 36 participants (15.1%) reported new or worsening neurological symptoms following the vaccination, the most frequent being sensory disturbances (21 participants, 58.3%). Most symptoms occurred within the first 24 h after vaccination and resolved within 3 days. A total of 28 participants (77.8%) did not require any medication to treat their symptoms. Conclusions: This survey indicates an overall favorable safety profile of the BNT162b2 vaccine in people with MS. These data should be confirmed in further prospective, large-scale studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3742-3748
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Volume28
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • adverse events
  • multiple sclerosis
  • safety
  • vaccine

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