It's understandable to be concerned about COVID-19 (coronavirus). We've created this page to help keep you up-to-date with the most recent information. We hope you find it useful and it answers some of your questions.
Does having epilepsy put you at increased risk from coronavirus?
There is no evidence that having epilepsy increases the risk of catching the virus or having a more severe case of the illness. The majority of children and young people will get mild symptoms which will pass after a few days.
However, illness can be a seizure trigger in many children and young people with epilepsy – so it’s important to take care. Follow the latest social distancing guidance and get plenty of rest and water if you or your child does get ill.
If you have any questions or concerns you should check with your doctor or epilepsy nurse.
The Government is regularly updating its guidance, so please check here for further information: www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Do people with epilepsy have priority to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued advice on who should have priority to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the UK.
People with epilepsy aged 16 and over
People with epilepsy, aged 16 and over, are amongst those who will be prioritised to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Those with epilepsy will be in priority group 6, receiving the vaccine after the clinically extremely vulnerable and those aged 64 and over.
Three vaccines have currently been authorised for use in the UK. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is authorised for those aged 16 and over. The AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are only authorised for use in those aged 18 years and over.
Children with epilepsy under the age of 16
For children with epilepsy, only those who are at very high risk are likely to be offered a COVID-19 vaccination. The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) has said that this may include older children with severe neuro-disabilities that require residential care. At the moment there is very limited data on the use of this vaccination in adolescents and no data related to younger children. Doctors should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with parents.
What effect will the vaccine have on my epilepsy?
There is currently no evidence that people with epilepsy are at higher risk of experiencing side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine than anyone else. The ILAE (International League Against Epilepsy) have issued an article stating that there is no greater risk associated with epilepsy and also what you need to be aware of regarding the vaccine. The full article can be found here: COVID-19 vaccines and people with epilepsy
Do epilepsy medicines stop the immune system working well?
Most anti-seizure medication does not affect your body’s immune system.
If you do take medication that affects the immune system (such as everolimus), please speak to your doctor before your vaccination appointment.