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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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: 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. Vaccines currently available in Ontario are the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. Effective May 11, 2021, the Government of Ontario paused the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine until further notice.
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: Who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
A: Everyone born in 2016 or earlier is currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Canada. Two doses of COVID-19 vaccine are needed to be considered fully vaccinated. A third booster dose may be required for some individuals. The interval between doses is dependent on the vaccine you receive as well as your health status.
Pediatric Pfizer-BioNTech is the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for children born between 2010-2016. Youth ages 12-17 are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine (adult dosing). It is also recommended that 18-24 year old’s receive the Pfizer vaccine. Click here for more information.
Q: Where can I book an appointment to receive a vaccine or a booster dose?
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.
COVID-19 Vaccines & Children
Children with medical conditions, including epilepsy, can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have specific questions related to your child’s medical condition, we recommend contacting the SickKids COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to speak with a pediatric Registered Nurse. Click here for more information.
Q: My child is fearful about receiving needles. What should I do?
A: There are many ways to make getting a vaccine easier for your child. Plan ahead, be honest, and talk with your child about what to expect. Offer choices, such as if they want to watch while they get the needle, or focus on something else, such as watching a video on a phone or tablet. Click here for a list of helpful strategies for easing children’s fears about getting a vaccine. Also check out our Live with Lily episode for more tips!
Q: What if my child requires special accommodations?
A: For children ages 5-17, SickKids can help coordinate their COVID-19 vaccination appointment and offer specialized services including drive-through vaccination and the availability of Child Life Specialists and paediatric vaccinators. Visit sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult to make a booking to speak with a registered nurse.
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.
University Health Network – Toronto Western Hospital
Bridgepoint Family Health Team
Johns Hopkins Medicine