These pages contain information about COVID-19, vaccinations and MS as general advice only. The information provided on these pages should not be taken as individual medical advice. Your medical team (neurologist, MS nurse, GP) is still your primary source of contact for any concerns or specific questions you may have about COVID-19, vaccinations and timing of MS treatments and other medicines. For general queries, please contact your state/territory MS organisation, or the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.
On the 8th of October 2021, the Australian Technical Advisory Group for Immunisations (ATAGI), which advises the Australian Government on immunisation issues, provided guidance about the need for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccination. This statement can be accessed here. ATAGI recommends a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccination as part of the primary course of immunisations in individuals who are potentially immunocompromised.
This aims to boost what otherwise might be a diminished response to the initial course of two vaccinations. The third dose is recommended to be given 2-6 months after the second dose and an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer (“Cominarty”) or Moderna (“Spikevax”), is preferred if there are no medical reasons not to do so.
The ATAGI Statement gives specific advice regarding various groups of medications which may result in a reduced response to the first two COVID-19 vaccine doses. Some of these medications are used to treat people with MS, including (pulsed corticosteroid therapy (such as methylprednisolone), and disease modifying therapies which deplete certain immune cells.
For a list of MS medications and treatments and their associated recommendations regarding a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, please click here.
There are also specific recommendations for people who have undergone haemopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT) recently. All individuals should refer to the full Statement in consultation with their medical team to manage the best plan forward. It should be noted that there are currently no recommendations nor evidence to suggest a third dose would benefit people living with MS outside of these immunocompromised groups. If you are in any doubt about if and when you should have a third dose of COVID-19 vaccination you should discuss this with your specialist healthcare team.
The ATAGI Statement also advises that antibody testing is not recommended to assess for immunity to COVID-19 following vaccination after a second or third dose.
On the 25th Of October 2021, the Australian Government announced that the Pfizer “Cominarty” vaccine has now been provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, the first vaccination provisionally approved for this purpose. The booster dose is recommended 6 months after the initial two dose vaccination program for individuals aged 18 and over. Further details regarding accessing booster vaccinations have been released from the Australian Government and can be found here.
To help address specific information you may be seeking about the pandemic and MS, please see the sections below with links to take you directly to your area of interest.
We remain committed to providing the MS community with updated and current information regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations as it becomes available, including regular review of these web pages. However, this area is open to rapid change as new information becomes available and procedures are updated to reflect new data and government recommendations and restrictions.
A comprehensive list of the most common questions people living with MS may have regarding COVID-19 issues is provided here, including information on various MS medications.
Healthdirect Australia has developed a COVID-19 restriction tool to help Australians to 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.
A group of local neurologists with a special interest in MS through the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN), have together with MS Australia, provided COVID-19 vaccination guidance addressing many common questions from people living with MS.
The initial rollout phases of the COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia supported people with MS receiving vaccinations early, as part of phase 1b. The vaccine rollout has now been expanded into later phases to include all Australians over 12 years of age. If you have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccinations, please refer to the information on this link to help guide you in accessing this free service for Australian citizens.
An international MS group, led by the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) is gathering information about the pandemic and MS from all over the world. To access the latest information, please click here.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination roll-out remain global health priorities, collecting, sharing and analysing data from all around the world is more important than ever. This data sharing initiative means we will gain faster and more accurate insights into COVID-19 and MS, to help people with MS and their healthcare teams make evidence-based decisions on how to manage their condition during the pandemic, how to manage the illness if they develop a COVID-19 infection and how to manage the COVID-19 vaccination process.
For more information about how the MS global data sharing initiative works, and how the data is used, please click here.
The unique aspects of MS and specific medications make it difficult to give broad and general advice. If you still have questions that are not answered in these resources, please contact your neurologist, MS healthcare team or your GP. Together we can build on the extensive information we already have gained through the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to help people and families living with MS to live their best lives possible as we navigate this new world.