The recent approval of vaccines for SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has evoked a lot of excitement, but also raised questions about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines. Our team and other epilepsy experts believe that these vaccines are safe for individuals with epilepsy, TSC, and other neurological conditions associated with epilepsy.
Data suggests that the vaccines produced from Pfizer and Moderna are over 90% effective. These vaccines will soon be available for adults over the age of 16. No study to date has assessed the COVID-19 vaccine in patients with epilepsy or TSC. However, having epilepsy does not increase one’s risk of contracting COVID-19. There are several medical conditions identified by the CDC that may put an individual at higher risk of contracting a severe COVID-19 infection. A severe COVID-19 infection can result in hospitalization and possible death. The CDC does not recognize epilepsy or TSC as one of those medical conditions. However, according to the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, comorbidities, such as lung and kidney disease, that can be associated with TSC, may put an individual at higher risk for contracting a severe case COVID-19. Our team recommends getting the vaccine when it becomes available to prevent severe infection and hospitalization.
Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal decision and everyone’s risk will be different. If you have any questions or concerns please consult your primary care physician.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will the vaccine increase my seizures?
There have been no trials to date that have studied the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine on patients with epilepsy. Additionally, it is important to note that an elevated temperature (fever) is one of the potential side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. If you experience seizures that are triggered by a fever you should consult a medical professional. However, The Epilepsy Foundation suggests that “the data on the risks of COVID and safety of the COVID vaccines still support vaccination”.
When can I get the vaccine?
We do not know yet. The CDC has provided federal, state and local governments with recommendations. The plan to vaccinate everyone will vary between state. Due to limited numbers of available vaccines, people who are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 will receive the vaccine first. Learn more about vaccines and vaccine priorities here.
People with epilepsy or other related neurological conditions are not regarded as high risk according to the CDC. However, there will be some exceptions for people living in long term care facilities who could qualify as a higher priority group. Those regulations will vary between different facilities and the state that you live in.
We encourage you to stay updated with your local and state advisories.
Can I contract Covid-19 from the vaccine?
No, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines do not contain the live virus. They are mRNA vaccines that teach the body how to recognize the SARS-CoV2 virus in our bodies and create an immune response.
Can my child (under 16 years old) get vaccinated?
Not at this time. Neither of the vaccines have been approved for children under the age of 16. Further research needs to be conducted.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the Mass General Brigham COVID-19 vaccination page.
You can also find useful information at these websites: