COVID-19 Guidance for People Living with Hydrocephalus

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    HA Medical Advisory Board Recommendations Regarding COVID-19 for Patients with Hydrocephalus

    HA COVID-19 Update June 8, 2022

    High-Level Summary

    (Full article follows this bullet list.)

    • Hydrocephalus by itself is not a risk factor for contracting COVID-19 or developing severe COVID‑19 disease.
    • Hydrocephalus treatment (shunt or ETV) does not increase a person’s risk for contracting COVID‑19 or developing severe COVID-19 disease.
    • The Medical Advisory Board strongly encourages persons with hydrocephalus and their families to be vaccinated for COVID-19 when they become eligible according to federal, state, and local guidelines. (more information is below)
      • SPECIAL NOTE ON CHILDREN BELOW THE AGE OF 16 YEARS: The CDC recommends everyone ages 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. Currently the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for children 5 years and older. No vaccines have been approved yet for children 4 years and younger. Click here to see the latest updates on vaccines that are approved for use in children.
    • The Medical Advisory Board strongly encourages persons with hydrocephalus over the age of 18 years and their families to receive the COVID-19 Booster Shot if they meet the criteria described by the FDA and CDC.
    • Obtain information about COVID-19, the COVID-19 vaccine and Booster shots from reliable sources, including the Centers for Disease Control, Health Canada, the World Health Organization, state or provincial health boards, and the Hydrocephalus Association. Please be careful not to respond to information on the internet that may be untrustworthy, or that may try to sell you bogus advice, treatments, or vaccines.
    • People with hydrocephalus who are over 60, and those of any age who have coexisting health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, immune suppression, or lung disease, should consider themselves in the higher-risk population for developing severe COVID-19, as described by the CDC
    • Nobody is immune from COVID-19. Persons of all ages, including infants, children, teens, young and middle-aged adults, and the elderly, are at risk for contracting COVID‑19, including a risk for developing severe COVID-19 disease.
    • Fear of COVID‑19 should not stop you from seeking necessary medical care, but call your physician’s office first so that they can recommend how and where to be treated.
    • If you are experiencing symptoms that are concerning for shunt malfunction or another issue that could be harmful to you if not addressed promptly, please contact your physician’s office, or, if there is an emergency, call 911 or the number for emergency services in your community.
    • Prevention of spread and transmission of COVID-19 between persons is vital. Everyone should follow CDC guidance, as well as federal, state, and local governmental guidance regarding masking, social distancing, and travel both locally and internationally.

    COVID-19 Vaccination

    • The Medical Advisory Board strongly encourages persons with hydrocephalus over the age of 16 years and their families to be vaccinated for COVID-19 according to federal, state, and local guidelines.
      • SPECIAL NOTE ON CHILDREN BELOW THE AGE OF 16 YEARS: The CDC recommends everyone ages 5 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. Currently the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for children 5 years and older. No vaccines have been approved yet for children 4 years and younger. Click here to see the latest updates on vaccines that are approved for use in children.
    • The benefits of COVID-19 vaccinations for individuals and for the public far outweigh the risks.
    • The FDA guidance and published information for both the Pfizer/BioN Tech (Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine | FDA), the Moderna (Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine | FDA), and J&J/Janssen (Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine | FDA) vaccines list no risk factors for adverse events except for persons who are already known to have an adverse reaction to the vaccine or to any ingredients in the vaccine.
      • If you have had reactions to vaccines in the past, please consult your physician about your individual safety for the COVID-19 vaccine and Boosters.
    • No disease or disorder, including hydrocephalus or having a shunt, has been documented to increase the risk of adverse reactions to the vaccine(s)

    Hydrocephalus and Risk Factors for COVID-19

    After a review of the published medical literature, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the HA Medical Advisory Board, Dr. Michael A. Williams and Dr. Mark G. Hamilton, state that hydrocephalus has not been mentioned as a specific risk factor for contracting or developing severe COVID-19 in adults or children.

    However, many persons of all ages with hydrocephalus have coexisting health conditions, and they should consider themselves in the higher-risk population, as described by the CDC, which includes older adults or those of any age with serious long-term health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, as well as other ongoing serious health conditions.

    What Should Persons with Hydrocephalus and Their Families Know about COVID-19?

    • Hydrocephalus by itself has not been identified as a risk factor for severe COVID-19.
    • Persons with normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) should consider themselves at high risk for severe COVID-19, but not because they have NPH. Persons with NPH are at risk because they are over age 60 years, and many have coexisting conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions that can put them at risk for more severe COVID-19 disease.
    • Hydrocephalus treatment (shunt or ETV) does not increase a person’s risk for contracting COVID-19 or developing severe COVID-19 disease.
    • COVID-19 does not increase a person’s risk of developing a shunt infection.
    • Nasal swab testing for COVID-19 is safe for an individual with hydrocephalus. If patients have any concern about potential risk, particularly if there are other underlying neurological conditions, they should consult their doctor prior to testing.
    • Many persons of all ages with hydrocephalus have coexisting health conditions, and those individuals should consider themselves in the higher-risk population, as described by the CDC, which includes older adults or those of any age with serious long-term health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, as well as other ongoing serious health conditions.

    Recommendations for the Hydrocephalus Community At Large

    • The Medical Advisory Board strongly encourages persons with hydrocephalus over the age of 16 years and their families to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and to receive the Booster after their complete vaccine dose, as recommended by federal, state, and local guidelines.
    • Prevention of spread and transmission of COVID-19 between persons is vital. Everyone should follow CDC guidance, as well as federal, state, and local governmental guidelines.
    • Do not let fear of COVID-19 keep you from seeking necessary care for your hydrocephalus. If you are experiencing symptoms that are concerning for shunt malfunction or another issue that could be harmful to you if not addressed promptly, please contact your physician’s office, or, if there is an emergency, call 911 or emergency services in your community.
    • Obtain information about COVID-19, the COVID-19 vaccine and Boosters from reliable resources, including the Centers for Disease Control, Health Canada, the World Health Organization, state or provincial health boards, and the Hydrocephalus Association. Please be careful not to respond to information on the internet that may be untrustworthy, or that may try to sell you bogus advice, treatments, or vaccines for COVID-19 (i.e., scams).

    COVID-19 and Hydrocephalus: Q&A with Our Experts

    To hear more from our Medical Advisory Board about hydrocephalus and COVID-19, please view our two-part Q&A that was recorded Friday, March 20, 2020.

    Part 1: COVID-19 and Hydrocephalus Overview with our Experts

     


    Part 2: COVID-19 Live Q&A with our Medical Experts

     


    COVID-19 and Hydrocephalus

    An Inspirational Message from Dr. Michael A. Williams

    Closing comments for the Part 1: COVID-19 and Hydrocephalus Overview with our Experts Webinar


    Helpful Informational Links

    How are States Prioritizing Who Will Get the COVID-19 Vaccine First? by the Kaiser Family Foundation

    From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

    American Epilepsy Society Statement on COVID-19

    Spina Bifida Association Information Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Health Canada Coronavirus Disease Information (Government of Canada)

    Child Neurology Foundation COVID-19 Response

    American Academy of Pediatrics – What You Need to Know About Coronavirus


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