COVID-19 and Parkinson’s

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As the vaccine is rolling out in phases, several provinces have updated eligibility criteria for vaccine prioritization.

While Parkinson’s may not broadly qualify for prioritization, we encourage members of our community to review the information on vaccine eligibility provided by their local public health unit/authority to determine if they qualify for prioritization based on their unique circumstances.

Specific commentary on priority groups follows.


Parkinson Canada is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of all people living with Parkinson’s. We continue to closely monitor information on the COVID-19 pandemic provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada and other public health authorities.

What we know today is that the distribution of vaccines is rolling out across Canada in a phased approach that prioritizes access to the vaccine to certain populations. There are many reasons why a person living with Parkinson’s may have earlier access to the vaccine, but the diagnosis of Parkinson’s or any other health condition is not currently included in the rollout plan for priority access to the vaccine.

Since the priority groups were first announced, we have worked hard to understand the overall strategy for the vaccine and where Parkinson’s fits in to this roll out strategy. We continue to consult with movement disorder specialists and other providers as information evolves and we seek to put the health of Canadians with Parkinson’s first.

At this time, many of the people with Parkinson’s most at risk for severe illness will qualify for earlier access to the vaccine based on the existing criteria for Canada, which is:

  • Residents and staff of shared living settings that provide care for seniors.
  • Adults 70 years of age and older, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, and then decreasing the age limit by 5-year increments to age 70 years as supply becomes available.
  • Health care workers who have direct contact with patients, including those who work in health care settings and personal support workers.
  • Adults in Indigenous communities.

As additional COVID-19 vaccines and supplies become available, the following populations should then be offered vaccinations:

  • Health care workers not included in the initial rollout
  • Residents and staff of all other shared living settings, such as homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and housing for migrant workers
  • Essential workers who face additional risks to maintain services for the functioning of society

This resource will provide you with more information on the vaccine roll out plan for Canada and has a tool to easily search for information specific to your province or territory: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/covid-19-vaccine-treatment/vaccine-rollout.html

See more resources for COVID-19 for people living with Parkinson’s and care partners.

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 and Parkinson’s

There is no evidence to suggest that any COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe or ineffective in people with Parkinson’s. The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society have encouraged community of health specialists to recommend COVID-19 vaccination to patients with Parkinson’s (or their responsible caregivers) unless there is a specific reason that precludes administration.

They also recommend that patients come forward to seek the vaccine as quickly as it is available. The recommendation is given because benefits and risks are not different than in the general (age-matched) population and because we want our patients to be protected against the disease and its consequences.

Read the full statement.

While anyone can be exposed and become sick from COVID-19, there are individuals who may be more likely to be exposed to the disease due to the following:

  • Their jobs or occupations require them to be in contact with large numbers of people, which increases their chances of being exposed to someone who has COVID-19
  • They live in group settings where the COVID-19 virus may transmit more easily (for example, long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, shelters, or group residences)
  • They face barriers that limit their ability to access or implement effective public health measures (for example, individuals with disabilities who encounter non-accessible information, services and/or facilities)

For example, anyone who has:

  • difficulty reading, speaking, understanding or communicating
  • difficulty accessing medical care or health advice
  • difficulty doing preventive activities, like frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes
  • ongoing specialized medical care or needs specific medical supplies
  • ongoing supervision needs or support for maintaining independence
  • difficulty accessing transportation
  • economic barriers
  • unstable employment or inflexible working conditions
  • social or geographic isolation, like in remote and isolated communities
  • insecure, inadequate, or nonexistent housing conditions

Parkinson Canada urges all Canadians to continue following public health guidelines to stay safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. For more information, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/measures-reduce-community.html#s

To-date there is limited information on COVID-19 and Parkinson’s; however, from the studies that have been published it is found that a person with Parkinson’s who contracts COVID-19 may experience worsening motor symptoms and non-motor symptoms, such as fatigue and autonomic issues, during the acute infection. If you are infected with COVID-19 and are experiencing a worsening in your Parkinson’s symptoms, please contact your physician to determine the best strategies for you to manage through the infection.

Anyone can get sick from COVID-19; however, the people at greatest risk of more serious illness or outcomes from COVID-19 are:

  • Older adults (increasing risk with each decade, especially over 60 years).
  • People of any age with chronic medical conditions including:
    • lung disease
    • heart disease
    • hypertension (high blood pressure)
    • diabetes
    • kidney disease
    • liver disease
    • dementia
    • stroke
  • People of any age who are immunocompromised, including those:
    • with an underlying medical condition (e.g., cancer)
    • taking medications that lower the immune system (e.g., chemotherapy)
  • People living with obesity (BMI of 40 or higher).

In one small study, it was found that in addition to age, advanced Parkinson’s disease also contributed to more severe illness.

For more information on conditions that that have a greater risk of more severe illness from COVID-19, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/people-high-risk-for-severe-illness-covid-19.html

7 Comments on “COVID-19 and Parkinson’s”

  1. Hi

    What is the best way to get a vaccine for a patient with Parkinson’s who is 66 years. Too old for the pharmacy program, to young for priority groups. What about underlying conditions?

    1. Hi Lynn,

      For information about how to access the COVID vaccine, please contact your local public health office. They will be able to explain how the vaccine rollout is working in your province and where you will be able to access the vaccine in your area. You can also contact your family doctor to inquire if your personal medical history qualifies under any of the prioritization criteria.

      If you need information on other resources and community programs that can help you, please feel free to contact our Information and Referral Helpline: https://www.parkinson.ca/resources/information-and-referral-helpline/.

  2. Hello, I’m 59 this August and I ‘very known I have has Parkinson’s since 2019, and right now I don’t care what vaccine I receive I’d just like to be vaccinated my care provider works in the LTC and Retirement fields and has had both of his shots and I’m always worried because I’m not. I live in St Thomas ON and they’re not the greatest and telling the general public whats going on or when vaccinations will be made available or when public health or the pharmacy just give me a date or at least a hint of when thank you

    1. Thanks for your comment, Donna. It’s true that the specific timing windows are set by our health care systems. The St. Thomas public health agency may have more information that could address your concerns. You can find their contact information on their website at https://www.swpublichealth.ca/en/index.aspx.

  3. FYI… April 1, the first day residents of Toronto with high risk medical conditions were eligible for vaccinations… I booked an appointment, told clinic staff I have Parkinson’s… and I was vaccinated. EASY! I was even prepared with data if someone said Parkinson’s was not on the list… but no questions asked. P.S. I am NOT age eligible (I am under 60).

  4. My father is diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is on his 3rd round of Hormone Therapy for Prostate Cancer. He is very wary to receive the COVID-19 Vaccine as he believes he will have adverse side effects such as worsening motor symptoms. Can you recommend any articles surrounding this to be false as he is not listening to his medical team or family?
    Thank you, Concerned Daughter.

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