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 about MS, please contact your state or territory MS Member Organisation, or the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.
If you test positive for COVID-19 please contact your medical team for further advice.
Commencing 11 July 2022, the eligibility criteria for the two approved COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments, Paxlovid and Lagevrib have been expanded in Australia. See below for more information.
Medicare will now cover a telehealth consultation by a GP for the purpose of prescribing COVID-19 antivirals. This temporary measure will cover a longer consultation by phone to ensure antivirals are safely prescribed by doctors and ensure as many people as possible can access these treatments. Millions of Australians are now eligible to access antivirals on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), but they need to start taking the medication within five days of COVID-19 symptoms.
PROPHYLACTIC TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR SEVERELY IMMUNOCOMPROMISED:
The TGA has authorised the use of AstraZeneca’s Evusheld™ (tixagevimab and cilgavimab). Evusheld™ is a new COVID-19 protective measure (monoclonal antibodies) designed to prevent COVID-19 infection in vulnerable and immunocompromised individuals who may not mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination. There may be a small portion of people with MS who fall in to this category. For more information, click here.
As of 27 January 2023, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) has recommended that Evusheld not be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) at this time, however, this might be revised in the future. Access will remain through current schemes.
Watch some specialist MS healthcare workers talk about MS and COVID-19 preventative medications and antiviral treatments – here.
NEW ATAGI RECOMMENDATIONS ABOUT WINTER BOOSTER DOSES:
ATAGI recommends that people in these groups who have not yet received their winter booster should get one as soon as possible, factoring in timing of first booster and infection (if applicable)
Additional groups recommended (from 25 May 2022):
Multiple Sclerosis is included in this group in table 1 under chronic neurological disease
This latest ATAGI advice can be found here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/expanded-atagi-recommendations-on-winter-covid-19-booster-doses-for-people-at-increased-risk-of-severe-covid-19
If you are on a disease modifying therapy (DMT) that places you in the immunocompromised group, please consult with your MS neurologist/MS healthcare team/GP about the timing of your next vaccination. These DMTs include: Lemtrada, Ocrevus, Kesimpta, Mayzent, Gilenya and Zeposia.
You can have your COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time. Most people who are eligible for the COVID-19 winter booster dose will also be eligible for a free flu vaccine.
For more information and for our advice about vaccinations for people with MS refer to here.
Past ATAGI COVID-19 statements can be accessed here.
The Australian government has released a National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023 which can be accessed here.
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.