If you have multiple sclerosis, you can and should receive recommended vaccinations -- including annual flu shots, a new American Academy of Neurology guideline says.
"We reviewed all of the available evidence, and for people with MS, preventing infections through vaccine use is a key part of medical care," said guideline lead author Dr. Mauricio Farez.
"People with MS should feel safe and comfortable getting their recommended vaccinations," Farez added in an academy news release. He is with FLENI Institution in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
One of the most recent studies on the subject buttresses that recommendation.
German researchers reported late last month that vaccinations do not increase the risk of developing MS.
After analyzing data from more than 12,000 MS patients and more than 188,000 people without MS, the team at the Technical University of Munich found that MS patients were less likely to have received vaccinations in the five years before their MS diagnosis than people without MS.
MS is an autoimmune disease that can affect the brain, nerves of the eye and spinal cord. It often causes muscle weakness, and trouble with balance and coordination.
Before receiving vaccinations, you should tell your health care providers what MS medications you are using, because some MS drugs may influence the effectiveness of certain vaccinations, according to the new guideline.
It also recommends that patients having an MS flare consult their doctor before receiving vaccinations. They may want to consider delaying vaccinations until the flare is over.
"After reviewing all the available evidence, we found that there is not enough information to say whether or not vaccinations trigger or worsen MS flares," Farez said. "Still, experts in MS urge their patients to hold off on scheduling their vaccinations if they are having an MS flare simply to avoid the potential for any complications."
The guideline is endorsed by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers and by the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. It was published online Aug. 28 in the journal Neurology.
The new recommendations update the academy's 2002 guideline on immunization and multiple sclerosis.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on MS.
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