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Message from MSNZ on the Pfizer Vaccine and Side Effects

September 1, 2021 | Uncategorised

It is well known that viral infections and vaccinations may cause a fever that can trigger new or worsening of MS neurological symptoms (a pseudo relapse). In most cases these worsening of symptoms are temporary and will improve in time.


Like all medicines, the Pfizer vaccine may cause side effects in some people, irrespective of an MS diagnosis. Most side effects are mild and don’t last long — they’re more common after the second dose.


We are aware that a small number of New Zealanders with MS have experienced side effects or a temporary worsening of symptoms following their second dose. At this time, international data does not indicate a significant increase in inflammatory relapses associated with new disease activity following the vaccine. However, this may occur, so if symptoms persist, we recommend contacting your GP or MS nurse for advice.


We continue to work with our neurological advisors to provide the most up to date information based on international data.


While there is this potential for a flare of symptoms, the science has shown us that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Like other medical decisions, the decision to get a vaccine is best made in partnership with your healthcare professional. You should get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you. The risks of COVID-19 disease outweigh any potential risks from the vaccine. In addition, members of the same household and close contacts should also get a vaccine as soon as they can to maximise protection against COVID-19.


If you are concerned about your symptoms following your vaccine then we recommend patients should call Healthline on 0800 358 5453, or see your GP who could refer you to their neurologist if indicated.


You can report side effects via Healthline or online here:  COVID-19 Vaccine: Report an adverse reaction . You do not have to be certain that the vaccine caused the event to report.


To read more about the potential side effects we refer to the Ministry of Health’s website: COVID-19: Vaccine side effects and reactions | Ministry of Health NZ


For more information about the Pfizer vaccine, how it impacts the immune system, and interactions with DMTs you can watch our webinar or read the summary here: Covid Vaccine update for People with MS & Webinar or MS and Covid-19 Webpage