Last updated: 4/1/2022
Last reviewed: 30/3/2022
The World Health Organization recommendations include:
In addition, we recommend that people with MS should:
Caregivers and family members who live with, or regularly visit, a person with MS in one of these groups should also follow these recommendations to reduce the chance of bringing COVID-19 infection into the home.
In order to minimise the risk of being infected by COVID-19, the standard precautions advised by the Australian Government should be followed. This is the best source of advice on how to keep yourself safe and will be updated regularly. You can also stay informed by downloading the official government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or joining their WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.
If concerned that you’re developing symptoms of COVID-19 you should start the usual precautionary measures including frequent, thorough hand washing, self-isolation and wearing a mask. To seek further information, please contact:
If you receive a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 infection you should:
Healthdirect Australia has developed a COVID-19 restriction tool, to help Australians easily obtain the information they need to understand current restrictions in their own area and what is limited and allowed. Information is updated multiple times a day from official sources across all states and territories, making it the only national central source of information about restrictions.
You can find the checker tool here: COVID-19 Restriction Checker Tool.
People with MS should seek medical advice as they normally would if they experience changes in their health that may suggest a relapse or another underlying issue such as an infection. This can be done using alternatives to in-person clinic visits (such as telephone or video consultations by telehealth if the option is available). However, with many clinics and hospitals following COVID-19 safety recommendations, it’s still safe to attend an examination if recommended by your MS specialist health care team. With certain types of relapses, a physical neurological examination may be preferred to plan your best care options. In many cases, it’s possible to manage relapses at home with the appropriate assistance from your neurologist and MS specialist health care team.
It’s important to let your MS specialist healthcare team know of any symptoms of a relapse as soon as possible, to consider whether steroid treatment may be required. People who receive steroid treatment for a relapse should be extra vigilant and may want to consider self-isolation for an appropriate amount of time, to reduce their risk from COVID-19. Your neurologist and MS specialist healthcare team can provide further, individualised advice on this.
People with MS should continue to participate in rehabilitation activities as prescribed post relapse and try to stay as active as possible during the pandemic. This may be possible through remote sessions or in clinics following the appropriate and mandated safety precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
If you’re on a regular medication for MS or a related condition, then it’s recommended that you should continue to take this medication, especially in regard to disease modifying therapies (DMT’s) because of the very real risk of relapse when ceasing DMTs.
This is in view of the low risk of contracting COVID-19 in Australia, the lack of evidence for any increased risk of COVID-19 infection or its complications in people with MS on immunomodulatory therapies, and only a marginal increase in the risk of a more severe course of COVID-19 in a specific group of DMT’s, which includes rituximab and ocrelizumab.
Specific information related to each of the MS DMT’s and treatments during the pandemic can be found below.
It’s important that if you have any questions about the timing of your MS DMT’s and vaccinations, that you discuss this with your neurologist or MS specialist healthcare team. Certain DMT’s may need slight adjusting during this period, but most will continue as usual. The Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN)/MS Australia vaccination guidance discusses managing vaccinations and DMT’s in more detail detail and can be found here.
The COVID-19 vaccine two-dose schedule should take priority over influenza (flu) vaccine. In regard to the Pfizer vaccine, patients are recommended to receive two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine given 21 days apart and then wait a short period before receiving a flu vaccine. Please book to have your influenza vaccine at least one week after completing your second COVID-19 vaccination so that the opportunity to be protected against influenza is not lost. For those people receiving the Astra Zeneca vaccine, the time period between the 2 doses is longer and you should discuss the timing of the flu vaccine with your GP. It may be preferable for you to have the flu vaccination a week after your first COVID-19 vaccine, so that you are protected over the winter months.
The Federal Government’s Head to Health website can help you find the right digital health resources for your needs. This includes resources on how to support children and others.
Beyond Blue also has a page dedicated to looking after your mental health during this time. Click here to access information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health.
Click here to access information and resources regarding the NDIS and COVID-19 support.
This helpline provides information and referrals for people with disability who need support because of COVID-19. The Helpline can also assist families, carers, support workers and services.
Disability Information Helpline: 1800 643 787.
The Helpline is available Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST) and Saturday and Sunday 9am to 7pm (AEST) and is closed on national public holidays.
There is also a website www.dss.gov.au/disabilityhelp which provides further information
The Plan is designed to support the objectives of the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan.
It aims to minimise COVID-19 and its effects among people with disability; inform people with disability, their families and support workers; support effective care and rehabilitation for people with disability who contract COVID-19; and to support people with disability to continue to have access to non-COVID healthcare during the pandemic.
More information is available here.