Experience with the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination in people with multiple sclerosis

Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2021 Jul;52:103028. doi: 10.1016/j.msard.2021.103028. Epub 2021 May 18.


Background: Some people with multiple sclerosis (pwMS) are at increased risk of severe Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) and should be rapidly vaccinated. However, vaccine supplies are limited, and there are concerns about side-effects, particularly with the ChAdOx1nCoV-19 (AstraZeneca) vaccine.

Objectives: To report our first experience of pwMS receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Methods: Service evaluation. pwMS using the MS service at Barts Health NHS Trust were sent questionnaires to report symptoms following vaccination.

Results: Thirty-three responses were returned, 29/33 pwMS received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine, the remaining four received a first dose of BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. All but two patients (94%) reported any symptoms including a sore arm (70%), flu-like symptoms (64%), fever (21%), fatigue (27%), and headache (21%). In more than 2/3 patients, symptoms lasted up to 48 hours, and with the exception of two pwMS reporting symptom duration of 10 and 12 days, respectively, symptoms in the remainder resolved within seven days. No severe adverse effects occurred.

Conclusions: pwMS report transient symptoms following AstraZeneca vaccination, characteristics of which were similar to those reported in the non-MS population. Symptoms may be more pronounced in pwMS due to the temperature-dependent delay in impulse propagation (Uhthoff's phenomenon) due to demyelination.

Keywords: COVID-19; Multiple sclerosis; SARS-CoV2; Vaccination.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines*
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • ChAdOx1 nCoV-19
  • Humans
  • Immunization, Passive
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / drug therapy
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccination


  • COVID-19 Vaccines
  • ChAdOx1 nCoV-19