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Multiple Sclerosis & Coronavirus

Living with a chronic disease brings special considerations. Learn more about risk factors, ways to stay well, and specific recommendations.

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Coronavirus Risk for People Living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Representatives of the National MS Society and the chair of the National Medical Advisory Committee participated on a committee to revise the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) global COVID-19 advice for people living with MS, which is detailed below.

Current evidence shows that simply having MS does not make you more likely to develop COVID-19 or to become severely ill or die from the infection than the general population. However, the following groups of people with MS are more susceptible to having a severe case of COVID-19:
  • People with progressive MS
  • People with MS over the age of 60
  • Men with MS
  • Black people with MS and possibly South Asian people with MS
  • People with higher levels of disability (for example, an EDSS score of 6 or above, which relates to needing to use a walking stick)
  • People with MS and obesity (body mass index of 30 or higher), diabetes or diseases of the heart or lungs
  • People taking certain disease modifying therapies for their MS (see MS Treatment Guidelines During Coronavirus)

Learn more about who is at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Protecting Yourself from Coronavirus

The CDC provides recommendations on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and what to do if you show symptoms.  
 
In addition, we recommend that people in higher risk groups should pay particular attention to these measures:

  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet distance between yourself and others, to reduce your risk of infection when they cough, sneeze or speak. This is particularly important when indoors but applies to being outdoors as well
  • Make wearing a mask a normal part of being around other people and ensure that you are using it correctly by following  these instructions (Need a mask? Thanks to a partnership with Primal, you can purchase National MS Society-branded masks with 15% of proceeds supporting the Society’s COVID-19 Response Fund).
  • Avoid going to crowded places, especially indoors. Where this is not possible, ensure to wear a mask and practice social distancing
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub (70% alcohol content is considered most effective)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently especially those which are regularly touched
  • Talk to your health care provider about optimal care plans, through video consultations or in-person visits where needed. Visits to health clinics and hospitals should not be avoided if they are recommended based on your current health needs
  • Stay active and try to take part in activities that will enhance your mental health and wellbeing. Physical exercise and social activities that can take place outside and with social distancing are encouraged
  • Get the seasonal flu vaccination where it is available and encourage your family to do the same
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.

Everyone, including people with MS in the higher risk groups noted above, and their caregivers should continue to follow the advice above to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19.

MS Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers who treat people living with MS can find additional information in our Professional Resource Center.

Working and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Healthcare Workers Who Have MS
  • There is no increased risk of you getting COVID-19 because you have MS.
  • If you are concerned about your risk of getting COVID-19 because of the DMT you take, please contact your MS provider for advice.
  • There are no special personal protective equipment (PPE) instructions for people with MS. You should follow the same precautions as other healthcare workers.
Employee Rights

There are many protections that could be available to you if your employer is not being flexible with work from home options or workplace accommodations. Visit our employment resources page to learn more or contact an MS Navigator to discuss your individual rights and options.

Children with MS

There is no specific advice for children with MS; they should follow the advice above for all people with MS. The CDC has specific recommendations for children and COVID-19.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

At this time there is no specific advice for women with MS who are pregnant or breastfeeding. There is general information on COVID-19 and pregnancy and breastfeeding on the CDC website.

Vitamin D and COVID-19

Vitamin D has many functions, including supporting the immune system response to infections. There have been recent reports that low Vitamin D may be associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes.  However, a large study looking at risk of getting COVID-19 did not identify low Vitamin D as a risk factor.  Clinical trials are underway to see if Vitamin D supplements play a role in reducing severe COVID-19 outcomes. Until more is known, there is no recommendation to start or increase Vitamin D supplements. Read more about vitamin D and MS.

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