COVID-19 & MND

People living with chronic conditions such as MND have been identified as a vulnerable population that may be more susceptible to contracting the COVID-19 virus. Our MND Association network is therefore monitoring the expert advice available very closely to consider the impact on people living with MND, staff and volunteers. 

COVID-19 vaccination

The Australian Government has begun rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to priority groups. 

People living with MND are eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1 of the vaccination roll-out, which includes:

  • Phase 1a: Aged care and disability care residents

  • Phase 1b: Older Australians aged 70+ and younger adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability*

* MND has been specifically listed by the Australian Department of Health as priority underlying medical condition

​The vaccines have been rigorously assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to make sure they are safe and effective. Your GP or neurologist can also answer any questions you may have about the vaccines and how they work.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines

What are we doing?

All the state MND Associations are continuing to provide support services to people living with MND and their families, including equipment delivery. To limit the risk of COVID-19, some state MND Associations have moved to providing more services through Zoom, telephone, email, social media and other technologies, while still offering some face-to-face services and events in a COVID safe way and in accordance with the current COVID-19 regulations in their state.
 
The state associations anticipate being able to run many of their fundraising events in 2021, such as the Walk to D’Feet MND, however, this could change at short notice due to local outbreaks. For more information on support services and events please contact your state’s MND association on 1800 777 175.

As always we are here to help link people to trusted and up-to-date information, sourced from the Australian Governmenthealthdirect and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
 

Living with MND in Australia during COVID-19

Following consultation with our members, the state MND Associations, MND neurologists and colleagues from ALS/MND Associations internationally, we have developed a Living with MND during the COVID-19 Pandemic Fact Sheet. This fact sheet outlines what you should do if you have respiratory muscle weakness, use a ventilator, non-invasive ventilation or cough assist machine or notice problems with your breathing. MND Australia also encourages people living with MND to talk to their doctor about COVID-19 to understand the implications for their unique circumstances. 

During the COVID-19 crisis having an advance care plan in place is more important than ever. Our Planning Ahead Fact Sheet has therefore been updated to link you with up-to-date information and advice.  
 

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19? 

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 you can call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. 

If you or other members of your household are asked to self-isolate due to exposure to others with the virus let your health team or neurologist know. 

For people living with MND it is important that if you, or anyone in your household, develops a fever or flu like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat or increased fatigue you should seek medical advice as soon as possible as outlined here

People living with MND may already have some difficulty with breathing so if you experience any increased difficulties or sudden onset of breathing difficulties call 000 for urgent help. 
 

How can I protect myself and others? 

All reasonable precautions, such as hand washing and avoiding close contact with visibly unwell people, should be undertaken. Carers and health and community care providers who work with people with MND should also take precautions to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.

 

COVID-19 coronavirus - how to avoid infection

Infographic courtesy of healthdirect.
 

What should I do if I am a carer for someone with MND?

Read our Living with MND during the COVID-19 Pandemic factsheet stay-up-to date with the latest government advice. You may continue to provide support to your family member or friend as long as you are free of the virus symptoms and have not been in contact with anyone with symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19.

You will need to take extra care with hygiene and ensure all people coming to your home to provide care and support to your loved one also take extra care. You should also be sure to take care of your own health and well-being and stay connected to family and friends via the phone and internet. 

Family members or friends providing care and support to people living with MND may also want to ensure they have a plan in place should they become unwell or have to self-isolate. Carers Australia has information for carers on keeping themselves and the person they care for well, making an emergency plan, accessing groceries, asking for help and keeping connected and accessing support and services. 
 

What will be the impact on GP, neurologist or MND Clinic appointments?   

In response to COVID-19, the Government has introduced Medicare rebates for telehealth consultations with GPs, nurses, allied health and specialist doctors, such as neurologists. Telehealth services can be provided through widely available video calling apps and software such as Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Duo, GoToMeeting as well as through a telephone call.

We've been in touch with the specialist MND clinics around the country. At the moment most are still seeing new referrals and those who need to be seen in the clinic but offering telehealth and phone consultations for existing patients and those with symptoms of COVID-19 in self isolation. We suggest you contact your doctor if you have an appointment scheduled as the situation may change.
 

What will be the impact on the services that support me at home? 

Accessing NDIS support 

The NDIA has introduced a range of temporary measures to support participants during this time. If you have an NDIS plan, the NDIA has a Coronavirus Information & Support page with current information for participants and providers. As well as a 'What happens when' page, outlining the changes in place as a result of the current situation to ensure NDIS services continue to be delivered. 

If you are experiencing difficulties in accessing your NDIS supports, please contact your state MND Association on 1800 777 175.

Accessing aged care support 

Older people (60+ years of age, or 50+ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) are more susceptible to getting sick with COVID-19 (coronavirus). The risk of serious illness, and in some reported cases death, increases with age, particularly those who have chronic illnesses or who may have a weakened immune system. This means that older people who have MND should take special care at this time. The Australian Government has published a Fact Sheet for older Australians on COVID-19. It outlines the COVID-19 facts and the measures you, your family and friends can take to protect older Australians.

If you have a Community Home Care Package you will need to talk to your provider about the possible impact on services in your home. Check the My Aged Care website for the latest updates and advice.. 

If you are experiencing difficulties in accessing your home care supports, please contact your state MND Association on 1800 777 175.
 

Additional state-based information: 

 

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MND Australia would like to advise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users that this website may contain images or names of deceased persons.