Understanding coronavirus and Parkinson’s

Current UK government advice is to stay at home and limit your social contacts as much as possible.

Here's our advice on staying safe and managing your Parkinson's during the pandemic.

This page was originally published on 3 March 2020. It was updated on 22 January 2021 at 8.11am to reflect the latest guidance. This advice is updated as new information becomes available.

Parkinson's and coronavirus (COVID-19)

Getting the coronavirus vaccine

The roll out of the vaccination for people in the highest priority groups began on 8 December 2020.

You will be invited for a vaccination when it is your turn, probably by letter. Your age, underlying health conditions, and any caring responsibilities will determine your priority level.

Be alert to fraud. A text message with a link to book your vaccine online has been circulating, claiming to be from the NHS. Similarly, there have been reports of phone calls asking people to pay for the vaccine over the phone. There is no charge for the vaccine and the NHS will not ask you to share any financial details.

You can find out more about when you'll be prioritised for the vaccine in our article on the coronavirus vaccine and Parkinson's

Is the coronavirus vaccine safe for people with Parkinson's?

Our Clinical Director, Dr Donald Grosset, advises: "The vaccine is safe for people with Parkinson's. There is no interaction with Parkinson's medication. Parkinson's is specifically included as one of the conditions that is in a 'clinical risk group' and every adult with Parkinson's should get the vaccine."

I have Parkinson's, am I more at risk of coronavirus? What precautions should I take?

If you have Parkinson's, you have no increased risk of getting coronavirus.

While the government has said people with Parkinson’s are more at risk of complications if they get coronavirus, the advice for people with Parkinson’s is the same as for anyone who is not advised to shield.

Why do people with Parkinson's have an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus?

Parkinson’s can cause respiratory issues for some people. If you have advanced Parkinson’s or have lived with the condition for a long time, you’re more likely to have breathing and respiratory difficulties. Coronavirus affects your lungs and airways. This is why people with Parkinson's are described as being at greater risk of severe illness if they get coronavirus.

How might coronavirus affect Parkinson's medication?

If you do become unwell with a virus of any kind, it’s important to keep taking the medication prescribed to you for Parkinson's.

Our Clinical Director, Dr Donald Grosset, advises: "You should not suddenly stop taking your prescribed medication for Parkinson's, as that can cause additional problems. However, missing a small number of doses – because of vomiting, for example – will not cause you harm.

"Follow the advice given to you by your health professional who might adjust your tablets or dose, depending on your condition."

Should I be worried about shortages of Parkinson’s drugs?

No. The government has developed a plan to keep medicines in continual supply, and suppliers are currently holding 6 weeks’ extra stock above their usual levels and replenishing them as they’re used.

You should keep ordering your repeat prescriptions and take your medicines as normal.

I live with or care for someone with Parkinson's. What should I do?

If you’re caring for someone with Parkinson’s, you should always follow the guidance where you live. And there are some simple steps you can take to protect them and reduce their risk:

  • work from home if you can.
  • limit contact with other people.
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible).
  • wash your hands and clothes regularly.
  • find out about different sources of support and get advice on creating a contingency plan from Carers UK.

Arrange a test, and self-isolate for at least 10 days, if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

If you are the main carer for someone with Parkinson's but don't receive a carer's allowance, make sure to let your GP know so that you don't miss out on your vaccine. 

The person you live with, or care for, might like a booklet with information and support about Parkinson's and coronavirus. You can order a copy of this booklet, free of charge, here.

It's really important to look after your own wellbeing and physical health during this time. Further information on this is available on our website.

I'm staying at home or isolating and I need practical help. What support is available?

You can register with your local council for support getting food, medicines and other essential supplies. The gov.uk website can direct you to your local council’s support pages.

If you have Parkinson’s and live in England, you are eligible for help from NHS Volunteer Responders. Register and find out more details on their website.

Independent Age has lots of useful tips for getting supermarket deliveries during the pandemic, including how to get priority slots if you’re older or vulnerable.

And we can support you to find more practical help locally. Please call our helpline

You can also read about how we’re fighting for you in this crisis, all over the UK.

Am I clinically extremely vulnerable?

Measures for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable 

Some people are at very high risk of severe illness and hospital admission from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition. If you are in this group, you will previously have received a letter from the NHS or from your GP telling you this. You may have been advised to shield in the past.

If you are affected, you should follow the guidance where you live:  

If you're unsure and need to talk to someone, we're here. Call our helpline on 0808 800 0303.

Can I form a support bubble, or extended household?

Support bubbles and extended households are intended to help you if you’re lonely and feeling isolated, or if you need to care for or support someone else. There are different rules about support bubbles depending on where you live in the UK. 

If you meet the criteria within guidance for your area, you can form a support bubble or extend your household.

What should I do?

Follow the guidance where you live

Strict restrictions are in place across the UK. Check your relevant government website:

  • England. A new national lockdown began on 4 January, and will remain in place until at least mid-February. Everyone must stay at home, leaving only to buy necessities, exercise, provide care, or for other permitted reasons.
  • Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland started a new lockdown 26 December 2020. These measures are in place until 5 March, and will be reviewed on 18 February. You should only leave home for medical or food needs, exercise, and work that cannot be done from home, or for other permitted reasons.
  • Scotland. Mainland Scotland started a new lockdown on 5 January 2021. These measures are in place until at least mid-February and will be reviewed regularly. Check the protection level for your area.
  • Wales. All of Wales is under alert level 4 restrictions as of 19 December 2020.

Stay at home and limit social contacts as much as possible

Guidance for people who are clinically vulnerable, including people with Parkinson’s, says that it’s important to stay at home and limit social contacts as much as possible. Follow distancing and hygiene guidelines if you do go out.

If you do need to leave your home, the UK government advises people to think ‘Hands. Face. Space’:

  • You should wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds.
  • You should wear a face covering in enclosed spaces.
  • You should give people outside of your household space of at least 2 metres, or 1 metre where other measures are in place. 

Look after your wellbeing and mental health

During this pandemic, it's especially important to take extra care of your wellbeing and mental health. We've compiled some resources to help you feel your best self:

Wear a face covering

If you have to be in an indoor space, it’s best to wear a face covering. Face coverings on public transport, shops and other indoor places are compulsory throughout the UK. You may also be asked to wear one in other situations, like hospitals or GP surgeries. 

You can see how to make and wear a face covering here. We also sell face coverings and filters in our shop here.

You do not need to wear a face covering if you have a good reason not to. If you have a physical or mental illness, or a disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering, you do not have to wear one. You do not have to provide medical evidence of your reason for not wearing a face covering.

For exemptions and guidance in different parts of the UK you can refer to the specific guidance for the country you’re in.

If you feel more comfortable, you can carry a face covering exempt card. You can download and print one free of charge here. The second and third cards under the heading, 'Learning disability cards' are suitable for anyone with Parkinson's who cannot wear a face covering.

I volunteer with people with Parkinson’s. What should I do?

To minimise the spread of coronavirus, we’re pausing all in-person volunteering for now.

We’ll keep this situation under review, and once things change you’ll find all the information you need on our volunteer portal, Assemble or by getting  in touch with your staff contact. They’ll be able to guide you through resources co-designed by volunteers and staff, and start what is safe to do so.

Staying up to date on coronavirus around the UK

Coronavirus testing and contact tracing - what do I do?

If you, or anyone in your household, has symptoms, you should isolate for at least 10 days.

Each country in the UK has announced systems for coronavirus testing and contact tracing to control the spread of the virus. You can now download a free mobile phone app that tells you if you have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus.

How will I know if a notification is genuine?

If you've been advised by one of the country testing and tracing services to isolate, please do so. Trace callers will never ask you for details that could put your privacy or finances at risk.

Community testing 

From 14 December 2020, community testing for people without symptoms is available in some areas across the UK, excluding Northern Ireland, for a minimum of 6 weeks. If you are eligible for the test, your local authority will contact you.

We're here for you

We’re here for you throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Using our support tool, choose the topics that are important to you. We’ll show you the information that matters to you.