Covid-19 Vaccines: What do you need to know?
What is the Covid-19 vaccine?
The Covid-19 vaccine has been developed as the best and most effective way to protect yourself against Coronavirus (Covid-19). There are currently 3 UK approved vaccines available:
- Oxford University/ AstraZeneca
- Pfizer/ BioNTech
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorised in those aged 16 years and over. The AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are only authorised for use in those aged 18 years and over.
The NHS states that the vaccination is delivered as an injection into your upper arm. It is given in 2 doses, and the 2nd dose is administered 3 - 12 weeks after the 1st.
When will I receive the vaccine?
People living with epilepsy have been identified as a priority group meaning they will have access to the vaccine early.
The nine priority groups are:
- Residents and staff in a care home for older adults
- Those 80 years of age and over and health and social care workers
- Those 75 years of age and over
- Those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age)
- All those 65 years of age and over
- Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group (including epilepsy)
- All those 60 years of age and over
- All those 55 years of age and over
- All those 50 years of age and over
Group 6 includes anyone with a neurological condition, meaning that if you have epilepsy, you fall into this group. The priority group and clinical conditions list can be found here on the government website.
What about under 16s?
For children and young people with epilepsy who are under the age of 16, it’s less clear whether they’ll be prioritised currently. The Government website states that there is limited data on the vaccination for young people and children. They have advised that only those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities that require residential care, should be offered vaccination, and that clinicians will discuss this with a person with parental responsibility.
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 that anyone else. The ILAE (International League Against Epilepsy), led by Professor Helen Cross, 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, 'Covid 19 vaccines and people with epilepsy' can be found here.