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COVID-19 Vaccines for Youth with MS

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In this article
Updated: June 10, 2021
Información disponible en español.

The following guidance for youth applies to vaccines currently authorized.

Youth aged 12-17 should be vaccinated against COVID-19

The science has shown that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all children and adolescents 12 years of age and older who do not have contraindications for using a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for their age. Vaccination of adolescents aged 12-17 brings us one step closer to ending this pandemic and is an additional layer of protection for the most vulnerable among us.

Children and adolescents are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19

Cases of COVID-19 infection are rising in children and adolescents. While most COVID-19 infections in children and adolescents are mild, some infections are severe or even fatal. In addition to health risks due to COVID-19 infection, children and adolescents  are at risk for Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) two to six weeks after infection with COVID-19.

MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. MIS-C is serious, even deadly, although with prompt and often intensive care most youth with MIS-C in the USA survive. The risks of COVID-19 and MIS-C outweigh any potential risks from the vaccine. Review Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on vaccination for those who have had COVID-19 or MIS-C.

Youth with MS should be vaccinated against COVID-19

The importance of COVID-19 vaccination for youth with MS mirrors the advice for youth in general, as well as the advice for adults with MS. While there is no evidence to date that youth with MS experience more severe COVID-19 infection, nor that they are at higher risk for MIS-C compared to youth who do not have MS, vaccination is strongly encouraged.

Family members of youth with MS should be vaccinated against COVID-19

Parents, siblings and those who live in the same house of a child or adolescent with MS should get vaccinated. Vaccination of an entire household reduces risk for COVID-19 transmission to persons in close contact with each other.

The COVID-19 vaccines are not expected to cause MS or trigger an MS relapse

None of the available vaccines contain live virus and the vaccines will not cause COVID-19. There is nothing to indicate that the vaccines will cause MS. For youth with MS, the vaccines are not likely to trigger an MS relapse or have any impact on long-term disease progression. The risk of getting COVID-19 far outweighs any risk of having an MS relapse from the vaccine.

There is no evidence that the vaccines will affect fertility

There is no reason to expect any COVID-19 vaccine to affect fertility.

Individuals consulted in the development of this guidance

The National MS Society consulted the following individuals in the development of this guidance:

MS neurologists and pediatric experts

  • Nancy Sicotte, MD, FAAN—Chair, National MS Society’s National Medical Advisory Committee, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USA
  • Brenda Banwell, MD— Chair of MS International Federation International Medical and Scientific Advisory Board (IMSB) – University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Maria Pia Amato, MD—University of Florence, Italy
  • Amit Bar-Or, MD, FRCPC—President, International Society for Neuroimmunology - University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Tanuja Chitnis, MD—Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, USA
  • Jorge Correale, MD-- Raul Carrea Institute for Neurological Research, FLENI, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Anne Cross, MD, FAAN—Washington University and Secretary of Board of Governors of the Consortium of MS Centers, USA
  • Jaime Imitola, MD, FAAN—University of Connecticut, UConn Health, USA
  • Cheryl Hemingway, MBChB, PhD—Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, UK
  • Dorlan Kimbrough, MD—Duke University, USA
  • Avindra Nath, MD—National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, USA
  • Scott Newsome, DO, MSCS, FAAN, FANA—Johns Hopkins University and President of the Board of Governors of the Consortium of MS Centers, USA
  • Daniela Pohl, MD, PhD—University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Kevin Rostasy, MD— Children’s Hospital Datteln, University Written/Herdecke, Germany
  • Penny Smyth, MD, FRCPC—University of Alberta, Canada
  • Rachael Stacom, MS, ANP-BC, MSCN—Independence Care System, USA
  • Silvia Tenembaum, MD—Pediatric Hospital Dr J. P. Garrahan, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Dr. Evangeline Wassmer, Birmingham Women and Children’s Hospital, UK
  • Emmanuelle Waubant, MD, PhD—University of California San Francisco, USA
 

Staff from MS Partner Organizations

  • Julie Fiol, RN, MSCN—National MS Society, USA
  • Pamela Kanellis, PhD—MS Society of Canada
  • Julie Kelndorfer—MS Society of Canada
  • Hope Nearhood, MPH, PMP—National MS Society, USA
  • Leslie Ritter—National MS Society, USA

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© 2020 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.