The COVID-19 pandemic led to the urgent need for accelerated vaccine development. Approved vaccines have proved to be safe and well tolerated across millions of people in the general population. Dravet syndrome (DS) is a severe, early onset, developmental and epileptic encephalopathy. Vaccination is a precipitating factor for seizures. While there is no evidence that vaccine-precipitated seizures lead to adverse outcomes in people with DS, fear surrounding vaccination can remain for caregivers of people with DS, in some cases resulting in rejection of recommended vaccinations, leaving individuals more vulnerable to the relevant infections. A greater understanding of the safety profile of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccination in this vulnerable group will help provide guidance for caregivers and clinicians when considering vaccination.
A cross-sectional survey regarding COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, in people with DS, was conducted by Dravet Syndrome UK (DSUK). Concomitantly, a review of individuals with DS who had recently received the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, and who are resident at the Chalfont Centre for Epilepsy (CCE), or attend epilepsy clinics at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN), was undertaken.
Thirty-eight people completed the DSUK survey. Thirty-seven percent of caregivers reported being concerned about someone with DS receiving the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine; with some reporting that they would decline a vaccine when offered. Seventy-seven percent had not received any advice from a healthcare professional about the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. 18/38 were eligible for SARS-CoV-2 vaccination, of whom nine had received their first vaccine dose. Combining the results of the DSUK survey and the review of individuals monitored at CCE or NHNN, fifteen people with DS had received their first dose of the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. 11/15 (73%) reported at least one side effect, the most common being fatigue (6/15; 40%) and fever (6/15; 40%). Three individuals (20%) reported an increase in seizure frequency after the first vaccine dose. No increase in seizure frequency or duration was reported after the second dose.
Overall, these results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 vaccines are safe and well tolerated in individuals with DS, as they are in most people without DS. In most people with DS, SARS-CoV-2 vaccine does not appear to be associated with an increase in the frequency or duration of seizures, even in those who develop fever post-vaccination. Many caregivers are concerned about a person with DS receiving a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, with some reporting that they would decline a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine when offered. It is crucial that healthcare professionals are proactive in providing accurate information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination in this population, given the potential for serious outcomes from infection.

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.