Understanding coronavirus and Parkinson’s

Government advice is changing as restrictions start to lift across the UK.

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 13 April 2021 at 9am to reflect the latest guidance. This advice is updated as new information becomes available.

We're here for you

We have a range of information and support to help you during this challenging time. Our friendly, expert helpline advisers are also available to take your call if you have any concerns or questions, or need further advice.

Parkinson's and coronavirus (COVID-19)

Getting the coronavirus vaccine

The UK government is aiming for people in the top 9 priority groups to have had their first vaccination by the end of April.

Your age, underlying health conditions, and any caring responsibilities determine your priority level. If you're more at risk, you should have already been invited for your vaccination.

If you live in England and have Parkinson’s or are aged 50 and over, you can also now book your vaccination at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination, by phoning 119 or contacting your GP.

If you live in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales and have not had your vaccine, please check the current vaccination arrangements in: 

Be alert to fraud. There have been reports of scams asking you to book your vaccine or pay for the vaccine, claiming to be from the NHS. Scams can be via text message, letter, phone call, email or door-to-door.

There is no charge for the vaccine and the NHS will not ask you to share any financial details.

Read more about 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. 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.
  • Let fresh air into the house by keeping windows and doors open whenever possible, without getting too cold.
  • Find out about different types 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. In Wales, unpaid carers can also self refer to get their 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 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

Restrictions and social distancing guidelines remain in place across the UK. Check your relevant government website:

  • England. From 12 April further restrictions, including on non-essential retail and other services, and care home visits, have eased.
  • Northern Ireland. From 12 April further restrictions have been relaxed and the stay at home rule has been lifted. You should stay local and continue to work from home where possible.
  • Scotland. Restrictions are being lifted gradually, and you can now travel within your local authority area. Check the planned timetable for easing restrictions.
  • Wales. If you live in Wales, you can now travel freely within the country. But there are still limitations on meeting people from a different household.

Follow distancing and hygiene guidelines

If you leave your home, the UK government advises people to think ‘Hands, face, space and fresh air’:

  • 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. 
  • You must stay outside when you’re with people who aren’t in your household or bubble. The risk of infection is lower outdoors and there’s more space to physically distance. 

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 activities safely.

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

Community testing and surge testing

Community testing for people without symptoms is available in some areas across the UK, excluding Northern Ireland. If you’re eligible for the test, your local authority will contact you.

If cases rise, the government may begin ‘surge’ testing in certain in areas. If your area is affected, local news will provide more details.

Free rapid lateral flow testing in England

From 9 April, everyone in England is eligible for free, at-home rapid lateral flow tests twice a week. The government is encouraging people to take regular tests, even if they don't have symptoms, to spot symptomatic cases and allow people to go about their normal life with confidence.

These tests offer results within 30 minutes and can be ordered online, by telephone or collected from local pharmacies and test centres. To order your free home testing kit or find where you can collect them in your local area, visit the GOV.UK website.

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.