COVID-19 affects people with multiple sclerosis just like it does anyone else, said Stuart Olinsky, MD, neurologist with UPMC in the Susquehanna Region, and Megan Esch, MD, neurologist with Geisinger Health System.

“Multiple sclerosis by itself does not put patients at increased risk of COVID,” Esch said. “But because of the nature of the disease-modifying therapies we use, some of them do suppress the immune system.”

Any time patients with MS have a fever or infection, or any time their body is stressed, symptoms that had been under control may flare-up.

“A lot of those symptoms can be exacerbated, usually for a short period of time,” Esch said. “Once they’re over the infection, they start to feel a lot better. If you’re already vulnerable, getting such a serious infection (as COVID-19) can only make that worse, so we really want to protect that.”

Olinsky encourages MS patients, and all patients with neurological maladies, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There’s no fear of the vaccine because you have multiple sclerosis,” he said. “In fact, there’s no neurological disease for which I’m telling people not to get the vaccination.”

n Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Email comments to her at

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