RealTalk MS: Dr. Nancy Sicotte Shares an Update About Vaccines and DMTs, Variants, Masks and More
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society featured Nancy Sicotte, MD, chair of the Department of Neurology at Cedars-Sinai, on two of its platforms: the "RealTalk MS" podcast and the "Ask an MS Expert" webinar series. Both were hosted by patient advocate Jon Strum, who asked Sicotte about COVID-19 vaccine guidance for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Recent studies have shown that MS patients who are being treated with immune-modifying therapies have a reduced antibody response to the COVID-19 vaccine. But these patients still benefit from getting the shot, Sicotte told Strum on the podcast.
"I think we need to be vigilant, but I don't think that that's a reason that people should not get vaccinated," said Sicotte, director of the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center.
Sicotte said during the webinar that the vaccines are safe and effective for MS patients—including those age 12 and up—who are at no greater risk of vaccine-related side effects than individuals who do not have MS.
Until more is known, however, masking and physical distancing will remain crucial. "Assume that you might still be at risk for getting infected," Sicotte told Strum, "especially if you're on one of those disease-modifying therapies that we've talked about."
In situations where everyone is vaccinated, she said it is safe to go mask-free, but she urged masking in large groups where some people might not be vaccinated. "In truth, this is a situation where I would keep my mask on until we get closer to what we would call herd immunity," Sicotte told Strum.