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COVID-19 Vaccines and Epilepsy FAQ

COVID-19 Vaccines FAQ

We have been receiving a lot of questions about COVID-19, vaccines, and how it may impact someone living with epilepsy. We hear you and we understand your concerns.

Epilepsy Toronto has collected all of your questions, consulted with medical professionals, and consolidated all of the available information to try and answer them to the best of our ability. We will continue to keep you updated as new information becomes available.

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Please always consult your doctor or neurologist before you make any decisions about your health.

Epilepsy Toronto is determined, now more than ever, to continue providing support to those that need us the most.  We continue to offer individual counselling services over the phone or through online face-to-face platforms during this time. Please reach out if you need us.

Q: Are people living with epilepsy on a priority list to receive the vaccine?

A: Ontario has released its updated schedule for COVID-19 vaccinations for the month of May 2021. According to this schedule, Ontarians with ‘neurological diseases’ are considered ‘high-risk’ and will be able to book an appointment using the provincial booking system once they become eligible. Please refer to the chart below.

We encourage all of our members to consult with their doctor and to personally inquire at their vaccination site to see if they qualify.

COVID booking eligibility
Ontario COVID-19 Vaccine Booking Eligibility via https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/full-list-of-when-ontarians-can-book-their-covid-19-vaccine-in-may-1.5407487

Q: Is it safe for someone with epilepsy to get the vaccine?

A: Yes. Based on information currently available, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for people with epilepsy. So far, there is no evidence that people with epilepsy are at a higher risk of adverse complications after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Neurologists are encouraging everyone who lives with epilepsy to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Q: Is there a preferred brand of vaccine that people living with epilepsy should take?

A: Medical professionals recommend that you receive the first vaccine that is available to you. Waiting for a vaccine puts you at a higher risk for getting COVID-19 and in greater danger due to the many complications that are associated with a COVID-19 infection.

Q: Should I avoid receiving the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine because of the risk of blood clots?

A: The cases of blood clots from the AZ vaccine are rare and your risk of developing blood clots is very low. The AZ vaccine is highly effective and you have a much higher risk of developing blood clots due to contracting COVID-19 (1 in 100) than taking the AZ vaccine (1 in 250,000). Right now, there is no known medical condition or medication that will put you at a higher risk of developing blood clots.

Q: Are people who have had brain surgery at a higher risk of developing blood clots?

A: Medical professionals have not seen increased risk of blood clots due to previous brain surgery.

Q: Am I at a higher risk of side effects because I have epilepsy?

A: There is currently no evidence to suggest that having epilepsy is specifically associated with a higher risk of side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine.

Like all vaccines, you can expect mild and short-term side effects such as:

  • A sore arm where the needle went in
  • Feeling tired
  • A headache
  • Feeling achy
  • Feeling or being sick
  • A temperature or fever for a few hours

Q: Can receiving the vaccine trigger a seizure?

A: There is currently no evidence to suggest that receiving the COVID-19 vaccination will directly result in increased seizure activity.

However, as with any other vaccination, there is a chance that a fever may develop which could lower the threshold for seizures in some people. Antipyretics (e.g. paracetamol/acetaminophen) taken regularly for the duration of the fever will minimize the risk. Consult your doctor and remember to inform your vaccine provider that you have epilepsy before receiving the vaccine, as well as providing any other important medical information such as allergies.

Q: Can the vaccine interfere with my epilepsy medication?

A: There is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines will interact with epilepsy medicines in any way. This means the vaccine should not affect how your medicines work, and your medicines should not affect the vaccine. If you have questions about whether your epilepsy or epilepsy medications affect your ability to take the vaccine, please speak with your family doctor or neurologist.

Q: Where can I book an appointment to receive a vaccine?

A: You must first qualify to receive the vaccine before you can book an appointment. Find out if you qualify and how you can schedule your vaccine appointment by visiting: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/

If you need support or assistance booking your vaccination appointment, visit: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccine-booking-support

Q: Do you need transportation to a vaccination site?

A: There are services that are providing free transportation to vaccination clinics across the GTA. This program is intended for those who have limited transportation options or who cannot afford transportation to vaccination appointments.

If you live in Central Toronto, visit Toronto Ride or call 416-481-5250. Toronto Ride boundaries for vaccine clinics are:

Highway 401 to the north

the Lake to the south

Etobicoke Creek / Highway 427 to the west

Victoria Park to the east.

If you live in North Toronto, visit iRide or call 1-844-474-3301. iRide boundaries for vaccine clinics are:

John St. to the north

St. Clair Ave West to the south

Dufferin St./Allen to the west

Don Valley Parkway to the east.

If you live in Scarborough, visit Scarborough Ride or call 416 736-9372. Scarborough Ride boundaries for vaccine clinics are:

Steeles to the north

the Lake to the south

Victoria Park to the west

Pickering/Scarborough Border to the east.

Information about COVID-19 and vaccines in Ontario are changing and updating rapidly. In order to stay up to date with the latest information, please visit: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/

If you have further questions regarding your personal health information and COVID-19, it is best to consult your family doctor or neurologist.

 

Sources:

University Health Network – Toronto Western Hospital

Bridgepoint Family Health Team

Epilepsy Foundation

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Epilepsy Action