COVID-19 Vaccine Update – April 22, 2021

Our medical team at the Rocky Mountain MS Center at University of Colorado is recommending that all individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccine, unless there is a specific reason to not get vaccinated, such as a known allergy to a component of the vaccine.

About 135 million individuals in the United States have now received one vaccine dose and more than 89 million individuals are fully vaccinated. That means that more than half of adults in the U.S. have received at least one vaccine dose and about one third of adults are fully vaccinated. In Colorado, over 2.3 million people have received one vaccine dose and over 1.5 million people are fully immunized.

All U.S. adults over the age of 16 are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Individuals who are 16 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, and individuals 18 and older are eligible to receive the Moderna vaccine.  On April 13th, the FDA and CDC issued a pause on the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to give experts time to investigate reports of an extremely rare condition. Of the nearly 7 million doses administered so far in the United States, 6 cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot have been reported in people after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. No cases have been reported among the more than 180 million people who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Vaccines and Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs)

We recommend that everyone who can get the COVID vaccine, including people with MS, should get the vaccine.  Continue your disease modifying therapy (DMT) unless you are advised by your MS healthcare provider to stop or delay it.

It is most important to note that getting the vaccine when it is available to you is more important than timing the vaccine perfectly with your DMT. Please work with your MS healthcare provider to determine the best schedule for you.

Although B-cell therapies do reduce the efficacy of vaccines, patients on B-cell therapies have still mounted some antibody response in studies with the flu and pneumococcal vaccines. Preliminary data show that this is also true for the COVID vaccine. People with MS on B-cell therapies, like all other MS therapies, should still continue taking safety precautions after receiving their COVID vaccine. Further studies will be done to see if additional boosters or other strategies will be needed for patients on B-cell therapies.

We do not have any real world data that adjusting the timing of the vaccination relative to the timing of your MS medications will have any positive benefit in terms of improving your response to the vaccine. And, the risk of contracting COVID-19 is still very high. Therefore, early vaccination will provide more benefit to you than trying to time the vaccine to possibly gain somewhat higher immune responses to the vaccine.

Again, it is important to emphasize that getting the vaccine as early as possible will provide more benefit to you than trying to time the vaccine to possibly gain somewhat higher immune responses to the vaccine. Please work with your MS healthcare provider to determine the best schedule for you.

For more details about timing your vaccine with your DMT, please see the National MS Society’s suggestions here. Keep in mind that these recommendations from the NMSS are based on expert opinion as there is no real world data available regarding effectiveness relative to adjusting the timing of your MS medications.  If you take Ocrevus or Rituxan, IF possible, try to wait at least 4 weeks until after last vaccine injection to get your next infusion.

Again, getting the vaccine when it is available to you is more important than timing the vaccine perfectly with your DMT.  COVID-19 vaccines are a critical tool to ending the pandemic. In addition to getting vaccinated, wearing a face mask, social distancing and washing your hands are the best ways to slow the spread of the virus and should be continued even if you get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Receiving Your Vaccine – Eligibility Information and How to Get Your Vaccine Appointment

All Coloradans 16 and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals who are 16 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine and individuals 18 and older are eligible to receive the Moderna vaccine. Administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was paused by the FDA and CDC on April 13th out of abundance of caution to investigate reports of an extremely rare blood clot condition. If you live in Colorado, here are some helpful resources to help navigate signing up for a vaccine appointment. Finding an appointment isn’t always easy, so be persistent and try all options to secure your vaccine appointment.

And there are now three options for vaccinations which do not require an appointment. Here's where you can walk-in to get your COVID shot without an appointment:

Denver: Ball Arena Parking Lot

  • 1000 Chopper Cir, Denver

  • Drive-thru site

  • 9 a.m. - 7 p.m., Monday thru Friday

  • Vaccines available: Pfizer, Moderna

  • More information

Larimer County: The Ranch

  • 5280 Arena Circle, Loveland

  • Drive-thru site

  • 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday thru Saturday

  • Vaccines available: Pfizer, Moderna

  • More information

Pueblo County: Colorado State Fairgrounds

  • 1001 Beulah Ave, Pueblo

  • Drive-thru site

  • 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Friday thru Monday

  • Vaccines available: Pfizer

  • More information

Additional Vaccine Information Resources