Gilenya and the covid-19 vaccine, what should I know?
According to the National MS Society, COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with MS taking Gilenya. COVID-19 vaccines include the Pfizer BioNTech (Comirnaty®), Moderna (Spikevax™) and Janssen/J & J vaccines.
When is the best time to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I am taking Gilenya?
If you are about to start Gilenya, then the National MS Society recommend that you should consider getting fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine at least 2 weeks prior to starting Gilenya (fully vaccinated means two doses of the mRNA vaccine (Pfizer BioNTech or Moderna) or one dose of the vector vaccine (J & J). If you are already taking Gilenya, continue taking it as your doctor has prescribed and get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
The MS Society consider that the risks of COVID-19 infection far outweigh any potential vaccine risk, and people with MS should get the vaccine as soon as possible.
Which Covid-19 vaccine is best with Gilenya?
The Pfizer BioNTech (Comirnaty®), Moderna (Spikevax™) and Janssen/J & J vaccines are all considered safe by the National MS Society for people with MS who are prescribed Gilenya, with no preference for one vaccine over another. The vaccines are not likely to trigger an MS relapse or have any impact on long-term disease progression.
Will Gilenya affect my response to the COVID-19 vaccine?
Gilenya is an immunosuppressive and there is a possibility that it may reduce your body’s ability to generate an immune response. However, it is unknown how much of an immune response is required. The National MS Society strongly recommends getting vaccinated against COVID-19 because the risks of COVID-19 infection in people with MS far outweigh any risks associated with the vaccine and even if the response to a COVID-19 vaccination is diminished in people taking Gilenya, some response is better than not having the vaccine.
Am I more at risk of severe COVID-19 because I am taking Gilenya?
Because Gilenya blocks B and T cells in your lymph nodes it can increase your susceptibility to some infections; however, global data does not currently show any increased risk of severity of Covid-19 infection for those with MS taking Gilenya.
- MS AND COVID-19. Multiple Sclerosis of New Zealand. Updated 31 January 2022. https://www.msnz.org.nz/latest-news/ms-and-covid-19/#:~:text=Gilenya%20works%20by%20blocking%20B,B%2Dcells%20in%20your%20body.
- Timing MS Medications with COVID-19 Vaccines. Updated 11/2021. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. https://www.nationalmssociety.org/coronavirus-covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccine-guidance/Timing-MS-Medications-with-COVID-19-Vaccines
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- Gilenya Information for Consumers
- Gilenya prescribing info & package insert (for Health Professionals)
- Side Effects of Gilenya (detailed)