Last reviewed January 28, 2021.
This page offers valuable resources for myasthenia gravis patients with regard to COVID-19.
CDC Offers Guidance on COVID-19 Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published the following information about COVID-19 vaccines.
- January 6, 2021: The CDC says “mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to persons with underlying medical conditions who are not allergic or have no contraindications to vaccination.”
The CDC repeated this statement for persons with autoimmune conditions.
The CDC notes, “Clinical trials demonstrated similar safety and efficacy profiles in persons with some underlying medical conditions, including those that place them at increased risk for severe COVID-19, compared to persons without comorbidities.”
- January 21, 2021: The CDC strongly recommends your 2-dose vaccine series not be mixed; it should be completed with the same product.
To read the CDC’s update, which also addresses vaccine timing, the vaccine and pregnancy, and specific underlying medical conditions, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/clinical-considerations.html
COVID-19 Vaccines and MG
Vaccines for COVID-19 will be available in the coming weeks and months. Conquer MG will share guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when it becomes available. Because individuals who have myasthenia gravis may be at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness, Conquer MG’s Medical Advisory Board offers these general guidelines.
Please keep in mind this is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Be sure to consult with your physician to decide what’s appropriate for your specific situation.
- Most MG patients should get vaccinated. Generally, we anticipate that the risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccine will be relatively small compared to the risk of contracting the disease itself.
- More than one vaccine is being developed for COVID-19. There is not yet enough information to say which vaccine will be better for the MG population. As of early December 2020, two cases of transverse myelitis have been associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine (with adenovirus vector), so this specific vaccine may not be best for someone with autoimmune disease.
- If a person is taking immunosuppressant medication (such as prednisone, azathioprine, mycophenolate mofetil, or others), this may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccination. However, the person still should get the vaccine.
- 12/23/2020 Update: Persons receiving monoclonal antibody therapy (such as rituximab or Soliris®) for myasthenia should discuss with their doctors how to time the COVID-19 vaccine so the vaccine is most effective. For rituximab, it’s suggested individuals get the first vaccine dose 6 weeks before rituximab treatment, and the second vaccine dose 4 weeks before another treatment.
- Vaccinated individuals should continue to follow masking, handwashing and social distancing recommendations to further reduce risk, especially if they are on immunosuppressant medications that may affect their response to the vaccine.
- It’s recommended that persons who have myasthenia avoid any vaccine made from a live virus. However, the Moderna, Pfizer, and now the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines do not contain a live virus.
COVID-19 and MG: Guidance You Can Trust
- Myasthenia Gravis and the COVID-19 Epidemic: Things for you to know. (27-minute video) Henry Kaminski, MD, George Washington University, explains coronavirus basics, answers questions specific to those who have myasthenia, and identifies important ways to boost your health.
- Click to read Guidelines for Management of Myasthenia Gravis and Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome during COVID-19 Pandemic, written by the International MG/COVID Working Group. This article was published online March 24, 2020 in the J Neurol Sci. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2020.116803 You’ll find advice to share with your doctor about continuing your current therapies, whether to shift to home infusions, and more. (1/28/2021 Update: Starting in late 2020, COVID-19 vaccines have become available. For current guidance on COVID-19 vaccines from the CDC and Conquer MG’s Medical Advisory Board, see the top of this page.)
- The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has published a guide for medical professionals, addressing how to provide pulmonary (breathing) support for neuromuscular patients. MG patients may want to be prepared to share this with physicians if they need emergency care. Pulmonary Support for Neuromuscular Disease Patients During COVID19 Pandemic
- Click here to see what you can do to boost your own immune health. Click here for a discussion about staying well during the pandemic.
Like you, those of us at Conquer MG have been closely following news of the coronavirus. We recognize many individuals who have MG may be at risk for serious illness in the event they contract the virus. We wanted to share our current understanding of the illness with you.
About the Coronavirus
The strain of the coronavirus causing this illness is called COVID-19. The virus is thought to spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may be possible to acquire the illness if you’re near someone who is ill, or by touching a contaminated surface.
Coronavirus symptoms range from mild cold-like illness to severe breathing difficulty.
What Information is Reliable?
The links at the top of this page were created by expert doctors and researchers in the MG community. In addition, these sources – the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – offer trustworthy information:
Below we share links from the CDC about people who are most at risk, and steps you can take to prevent becoming ill.
We hope to share more information that will be useful as the situation unfolds.
ADVICE FROM THE CDC
To protect yourself from exposure, the CDC recommends:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put a distance of at least six feet between youself and others who don’t live in your household.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you’re sick
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough; throw used tissues in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (for instance, your phone, TV remotes)
For more information, click these:
Who is at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19
The CDC notes those most at risk for serious illness from COVID-19 include older individuals and those who have serious chronic medical conditions. This includes people who are immunocompromised, such as people receiving immunosuppressant treatments for myasthenia gravis.
If you are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19, you should:
- Stock up on supplies.
- Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
- When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds as much as possible.
- Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
- During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.