Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disease that mainly causes problems with movement.

While people with Parkinson’s are not a particularly high risk group when it comes to an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the chances of complications and severe illness from a SARS-CoV-2 infection are generally higher in people who already have other health problems.

There are now several COVID-19 vaccines available that can help lower your chances of infection, severe disease, or even death. The vaccine is recommended for everyone, including people with Parkinson’s disease.

This article will review the safety of COVID-19 vaccination for people with Parkinson’s disease and what to consider before becoming vaccinated if you have this condition.

Yes, it is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine if you have Parkinson’s.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination with one of the three COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved for everyone over age 18 and authorized for emergency use for everyone ages 5 and older, including people with certain chronic health conditions.

While there are some exceptions and modifications to vaccinations in people with certain diseases, Parkinson’s disease is not one that comes with modified vaccine conditions or guidance.

Immunosuppressive medications may affect scheduling or dosage

People who are immunocompromised from a natural disease process or a medication may need different scheduling or doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but medications that suppress the immune system are not usually part of the treatment plan for Parkinson’s disease.

There’s some evidence that immunosuppressive medications may have a protective or possibly even therapeutic effect against neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, but this idea is still being studied.

In one study, some people with Parkinson’s disease reported an improvement in motor symptoms for up to a week after vaccination, but more research needs to be done on why and what benefit mRNA vaccines might have for people with this disorder.

Talk with a doctor about vaccination dosing or timing if you are taking immunosuppressants for the treatment of other conditions.

Is there any reason why you shouldn’t get the vaccine if you have Parkinson’s?

At this time, an allergic reaction to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine — or a history of allergic reactions after vaccinations — is the only major reason not to have a COVID-19 vaccine.

If you have a history of blood clots, are taking immunosuppressive medications, or are actively sick with a fever, you should discuss the timing, dosage, and type of vaccine with a doctor.

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COVID-19 vaccination is recommended in people with Parkinson’s disease to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, or death. There are no data to suggest the vaccine is more or less effective for people with Parkinson’s compared with the general population.

mRNA vaccines are more than 94 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, including severe disease, while the viral vector vaccine is about 70 percent effective. Efficacy can vary from person to person and based on what variant of SARS-CoV-2 you are exposed to.

Each vaccine type has its own efficacy, and how well the vaccine works can depend more on what medications you are taking and your specific immune response than on the fact that you have Parkinson’s disease.

At this time, Parkinson’s disease and its therapies are not believed to enhance or reduce the effect of COVID-19 vaccines, and the vaccines will not interfere with standard therapies for Parkinson’s.

There are three COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved in the United States. These include:

While each type of vaccine can help reduce your risk of developing severe COVID-19, the CDC lists the mRNA types (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) as the preferred formulas.

There is no specific guidance on a preferred type of vaccine for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Pain at the injection site where the COVID-19 vaccine is administered is the most reported side effect for all types of COVID-19 vaccines. Other side effects are temporary and often occur in the days after vaccination. These include:

Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, has been reported in some people who received the vaccine, but this response is rare.

One study looked at two people who experienced increased motor problems (dyskinesia) after vaccination. However, this effect hasn’t been conclusively linked to the vaccine. The side effect may be a part of the natural progression of Parkinson’s disease or a normal inflammatory reaction to the vaccine.

Booster doses of some types of COVID-19 vaccines are recommended 5 months after you complete the last of your first two doses.

People who are immunocompromised may need a different booster schedule or additional vaccines, but there is no special timetable or guidance based on a Parkinson’s diagnosis alone.

Should all people with Parkinson’s get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for everyone over age 5.

Can you still get a SARS-CoV-2 infection after you’ve had a vaccine?

Yes, it’s still possible to become infected with SARS-CoV-2 after being vaccinated. However, the vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

If you’ve had COVID-19, should you still get the vaccine?

Yes, the CDC recommends vaccination against COVID-19 even if you’ve already had the illness. However, you should not receive the vaccine if you are actively sick with COVID-19. The CDC recommends waiting until the end of your isolation period to be vaccinated.

Should I still wear a mask in crowded areas after I get the vaccine?

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people generally don’t need to wear a mask in outdoor locations. As far as indoor settings, the CDC recommends checking the local infection rates and transmission levels in your area.

In areas or times of high transmission, wearing a mask indoors in crowded areas may be recommended to offer you additional protection from a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended for all adults, but especially those who already have other medical concerns or chronic disease.

Parkinson’s disease is unlikely to increase your risk of severe illness more than other chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, but experts still suggest keeping up to date on vaccinations and boosters.

If you take medications and suppress your immune system for Parkinson’s disease or any other condition, talk with a doctor about scheduling, dosing, or the recommended type of vaccine for your situation.