Background: Concerns about vaccination increased among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) regarding side effects, efficacy, and disease exacerbation. Recently there were reports of MS relapses after the COVID-19 vaccination, which emerged the safety concerns. Therefore, we aimed to perform a systematic review of case reports and case series studies to investigate the MS relapses after COVID-19 vaccination with most details.
Methods: We systematically searched three databases, including PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science, in February 2022. Case reports and case series which reported relapse after COVID-19 vaccination in MS patients were eligible to include in our study.
Results: Seven studies were included in our systematic review after the abstract and full-text screening with a total of 29 cases. The mean duration between COVID-19 vaccination and relapse appearance was 9.48 ± 7.29 days. Among patients, 22 cases experienced relapse after their first dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine, one after the second dose, and five after the booster dose. The type of vaccine was unknown for one patient. The most common symptoms of relapses were sensory deficits (paresthesia, numbness, dysesthesia, and hypoesthesia) and weakness.
Conclusion: Overall, the COVID-19 vaccination may trigger relapses in some MS patients, but as the infection itself can stimulate relapse, the benefit of vaccination outweighs its risk in this population, and mass vaccination against COVID-19, especially in MS patients, should be continued and encouraged.