Scott Scheuermann, Nurse Practitioner, has been working with Dr. Ahmed Sadek at Orlando Epilepsy Center (OEC) for over 2-years. He is originally from Alabama where he worked in a large Medical Center in multiple specialties as a nurse for about 10 years. He relocated to Arizona for training in neurology and worked there for nearly 5 years in general neurology practice.
Patients have been calling our office with questions about the COVID-19 vaccine so we just want to discuss the matter to help people feel more comfortable. It is important to know our office tries to follow the national guidelines set forth by the epilepsy foundation.
Several vaccines are currently on the market with the first release being the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Other companies will have vaccines soon available too. So far, there is no demonstrated evidence that persons with epilepsy are at a higher risk of side effects than any other person.
Our recommendation in general is for all patients to receive the vaccine. It is normal for the body to have an immune response to any vaccine so some small fever or other side effects are possible. This is a normal part of your body’s immune system reacting to the vaccine and creating an antibody to be effective against the virus later. The only main concern in regards to epilepsy is people that particularly have a seizure history associated with fever. These people need to be more careful and often further discuss with their provider. Our recommendation in general for patients, based upon research and other data, is for all patients with epilepsy to pre-medicate with either ibuprofen or Tylenol. By taking an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or Tylenol, may reduce the chance for the person to develop a fever. After this, you can go ahead and repeat the doses once in the morning and once at night for the next 2 days, just to reduce any further chances. We have had many patients that have been vaccinated, often within healthcare roles, where they had earlier access; several patients have received it through clinical trials as well. Currently, no patients have reported any seizure after having the vaccine
A few other things we want to address as well. Many people have not had symptoms with COVID-19. But when we have an unexplained change such as new seizures particularly without cause, we encourage people to contact our office but also follow-up with their primary care for COVID-19 testing, as we have found that even asymptomatic infections have resulted in exacerbating seizures.
We have been through a lot this last year dealing with the virus and the changes to our lives. We have found often patients have stopped coming in because they have had changes to their job, insurance, or sometimes just scared to go out. This has oftentimes resulted in people stopping their medications or trying to take reduced dosages, or just not having the monitoring they need. These factors have often resulted in people who have gone into seizures that once very stable. We want to encourage people to stay in contact with our office. If you are not able to afford your medications, have lost your insurance, or are having other problems please notify our office so we can help. Often we have already been addressing these and other problems with our patients. I do not want to see people suffer from seizures when instead we can make a plan together to prevent it.
Thanks for reading I hope everyone stays safe and well.