Almost three quarters of people with MS say they need more advice about Covid-19 vaccines
Almost three quarters of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the UK say they have not had enough information about Covid-19 vaccinations to make a clear decision on whether to get them, new research suggests.
The majority (69.3%) said they would definitely have the jab, but nearly three quarters (72.4%) said they would benefit from more advice.
The MS Register – which is part funded by the MS Society – asked 3191 people with MS how they feel about the vaccine.
There are more than 130,000 people living with MS in the UK, some of whom are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19.
MS damages nerves in the body and makes it harder to do everyday things, like walk, talk, eat and think.
There are more than a dozen disease modifying treatments (DMTs) currently available for the condition.
And 23% of those surveyed between December 7 last year, and January 19 this year, said they wanted information on whether the vaccine would be effective in light of their treatment .
Almost a third wanted to know the likelihood of the vaccine causing a relapse or making their MS worse (32%).
The MS Society charity said that as pressure on the NHS continues to mount, it is hearing from people unable to speak to their MS team – from neurologists to MS nurses.
It added that one in three calls to the MS Society’s helpline are now Covid-19 related – with callers frequently asking when they will receive the vaccine and whether the Pfizer/BioNTech or AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine is best for their MS.
Director of research and external affairs at the MS Society, Dr Sarah Rawlings (pictured), said: “It is completely understandable that given the complex nature of MS, many of our community have questions about Covid-19 vaccines.
“With the NHS under incredible pressure, we are hearing from people with MS who cannot speak to their MS team and so are desperately looking for information from charities like us.
“We’re working closely with medical advisers to update our Covid-19 information on our website.
“But we need the Government to support our efforts to communicate answers to the priority group’s important questions.
“It is really positive that most people with MS intend to have the vaccine but during this incredibly anxious time it’s vital they have all the information they need to help make their decision.”
Suki Bhadal, 47, is a mortgage broker from Coventry and lives with relapsing MS.
She said: “MS has already sucked enough of the life out of me as it is, so I have to weigh up the risks – and to do that I need more information.
“I’m meeting my MS team next month and it’s at the top of my list to ask.
“But, ultimately, until I know all the facts I will not be railroaded into having it (the vaccine).”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Our top priority is protecting the people most vulnerable to Covid-19 in our society and we are making great progress in vaccinating as many at-risk people as possible.
“Local NHS teams are ensuring extremely vulnerable people receive the vaccine in the safest way possible, as well as providing any care and support that people need.
“We would urge anyone with questions about the vaccination process to speak with their GP or healthcare professional for NHS advice and information.”
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) The MS Society.