Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence
Progressive MS Webinar
Register for our March 2021 webinar on progressive MS, a collaboration with the National MS Society and Paralyzed Veterans of America.
COVID-19 & Vaccine Information
Get the latest MS news on the COVID-19 virus and vaccine.
Generic & Biosimilar DMTs
The field of MS is seeing an explosion of new US Federal Drug Administration approved generic and biosimilar MS disease modifying therapies.
Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence
The Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence (MSCoE) are dedicated to furthering the understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS), its impact on Veterans, and effective treatments to help manage MS. By partnering with Veterans, caregivers, health care professionals, MS advocates, Veteran service organizations, and community health care institutes, MSCoE strives to minimize impairment and maximize quality of life for Veterans with MS.
MSCoE East and West have developed a national network of MS Regional Programs and MS Support Programs within the VA.
Given the size of the population of Veterans with MS seeking treatment in VA and their distribution across the country, it is feasible to provide access to high quality subspecialty care through a hub and spoke network with designated MS Regional Programs supporting local facilities.
Each Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) will have at least one MS Regional Program that will serve as a source for MS specialty consultation and education.
December 2020: COVID-19 Vaccination for Veterans with MS
While people with MS were not included in the trials of the COVID-19 vaccines, there are no significant concerns that any of the COVID-19 vaccines increase the risk of infection, MS relapse, or MS worsening in people with MS. If you have MS, the potential benefits of receiving a COVID vaccine for you and your family generally outweigh the potential risks. There are no data supporting that any one of the vaccines offer specific unique advantages or disadvantages for people with MS or related diseases.
For most MS medications we anticipate that the vaccine should have full efficacy. For those on “B-cell therapies” such as rituximab (Rituxan, Truxima, Ruxience), ocrelizumab (Ocrevus), or ofatumumab (Kesimpta) the protection from the vaccine may be reduced based on research with other vaccines. Despite the reduced response we still think the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risk. In general our recommendation for people taking the B-cell therapies is to schedule the vaccination within a few weeks prior to your next scheduled infusion. Do not skip an infusion without talking to your MS doctor.
More information can be found at:
The VA MS Centers of Excellence are discontinuing the bi-annual printed newsletter and moving to an electronic version that will be e-mailed directly to Veterans with MS quarterly. Please go to the Veteran newsletter page if you would like to receive the e-letter.
On Veterans Day, November 11, 2020, we take time to honor the brave and selfless Americans who have served in the United States Armed Forces, and to recognize the time, commitment and sacrifices of our service members who protect the ideals and freedoms that we cherish. We also take time on this day to remember the sacrifices made at home by the families and loved ones of our service members.
MSCoE staff and associates authored four articles for the April 2020 issue of Federal Practitioner.
Chris W. Hollen, MD, M. Mateo Paz Soldán, MD, PhD, John R. Rinker, II, MD and Rebecca I. Spain, MD, MSPH. The Future of Progressive MS Therapies. Fed Pract. 2020 Apr;37(Suppl 1):S43-S49. (full article)
Michelle H. Cameron, MD, PT, MCR, Jodie K. Haselkorn, MD, MPH and Mitchell T. Wallin, MD, MPH. The MS Centers of Excellence: A Model of Excellence in the VA. Fed Pract. 2020 Apr; 37(Suppl 1): S6–S10. (full article)
Mitchell T. Wallin, MD, MPH, Ruth Whitham, MD, Heidi Maloni, PhD, Shan Jin, PhD, Jonathan Duckart, Jodie Haselkorn, MD, MPH and William J. Culpepper, PhD. The MS Surveillance Registry: A Novel Interactive Database Within the Veterans Health Administration. Fed Pract. 2020 Apr; 37(Suppl 1): S18–S23. (full article)
Kathryn Tortorice, PharmD, BCPS and Natasha Antonovich, PharmD, BCPS. MS Medications in the VHA: Delivering Specialty, High-Cost, Pharmacy Care in a National System. Fed Pract. 2020 Apr; 37(Suppl 1): S36–S42. (full article)
If you push a manual wheelchair or use other types of assistive technology (AT), there are unique precautions you should take related to hand washing. COVID-19 can survive on the surfaces of your wheelchair or AT which you come in frequent contact with, such as the handrims. Any virus that might be on your hands is transferred to your handrims as you push your wheelchair. Guidance on protecting yourself and your loved ones can be found within the following PDF.
Veterans with MS, families, and MS health care professionals have questions regarding MS and COVID19. The MS Centers of Excellence are watching the situation closely and support the guidance from VA Central Office (VACO COVID19), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC COVID19), and the National MS Society (NMSS COVID19). Please follow these links for the latest information.
At this time, Veterans with MS are not known to be at increased risk of COVID-19 per se, and general precautions should be taken by all Veterans with MS, their families, and their providers. Follow your facility guidance on inpatient and outpatient procedures. We encourage the use of telehealth and/or phone call visits in place of in-person visits when possible.
The more immunosuppressive MS disease-modifying therapies (DMT) including ocrelizumab, rituximab, alemtuzumab, and cladribine may carry a higher risks regarding COVID19. The decision to start, continue, delay dosing, or stop those DMTs should be decided on a case by case basis always considering factors of age, medical comorbidities, disability, etc.
Links are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by MSCoE of any of the products, services, or opinions of the organization. MSCoE bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.
VA MS Publications
The VA ranks as one of the nation’s leaders in health research. Thousands of studies are conducted at VA medical centers, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes each year. This research has significantly contributed to advancements in health care for Veterans and other Americans from every walk of life.
Recent VA Provider Publications
Disclaimer: Links are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by MSCoE of any of the products, services, or opinions of the organization. MSCoE bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.
We are fortunate to have Veterans share their stories of living with MS. These stories are filled with life's challenges, the value of family and friends, lots of hopefulness, with a little sense of humor thrown in. We hope you will enjoy reading these stories and in a small way feel connected to others that are living with this disease.
Our YouTube series covers a variety issues effecting Veterans with MS. Each video shares perspectives from Veterans and their health care team.