I’ve been on a B-cell depleting infusion that suppresses my immune system since 2019. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, I wasn’t sure if my body was capable of fighting such a powerful infection while on this medication.
My next infusion was coming up in a few months and I was a little apprehensive about suppressing my immune system during these uncertain times. At that time, even the experts disagreed on whether it was better to get treatment or skip it.
Ultimately, the question was moot because the infusion center where I get my treatment closed temporarily and my infusion was postponed a couple of months.
While I waited, the National MS Society published an official statement about the COVID-19 vaccine and guidance for people on disease-modifying treatments (DMTs).
The recommendation for people with MS on my medication in particular was to get vaccinated at least 12 weeks after the last infusion and at least 4 weeks before the next one.
Since I belonged to an age group that didn’t have access to the vaccine immediately, I had to wait a little while to sign up for a shot. That gave me enough time to process everything I’d heard, seen, and read about the shot itself.
I have to admit that I had my doubts about the vaccine. There was so much propaganda and misleading information out there. And again, being something so new, I didn’t know what to believe or think anymore.
But ultimately, I felt being vaccinated was the only way to stop this pandemic. Also, I sought advice from my neurologist and listened to the experiences from other MSer friends that were vaccinated already.
It was my turn now. I went in and got my first vaccine shot. I had a taste of metal in my mouth that went away fairly quickly. I felt a little dizzy right after the shot. But once I had lunch, it went away.
Later that evening, I had a very mild headache that didn't require any meds. My arm got a little sore but nothing major, and it resolved within 36 hours. I also felt a strange on-and-off burning sensation inside my nose. Three weeks later, I had my second shot and I barely had any symptoms other than a mild sore arm.
Overall, I think I tolerated the vaccine pretty well. None of my MS symptoms flared at all. I feel I made the right decision getting vaccinated. It gave me the peace of mind that I needed, and in a way it also gave me back my freedom. And let’s not forget that traveling is one of my biggest passions. I can't wait for things to get back to normal and to finally be able to safely go places.
But if you’re not sure, I would recommend you talk to your neurologist first. Then ask other MSers how they did after getting the vaccine. Get your information from reliable sources only, like the National MS Society’s website or other MS organizations.
Here’s the complete guide from the NMSS on how to time your vaccine depending on which drug you take.
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