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A to Z of Epilepsy - V


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Epilepsy itself is not a contra-indication for vaccinations. If you or your child regularly have seizures, or are taking any type(s) of anti-epileptic drug, you should normally still be able to receive any vaccinatons. A family history of epilepsy does not affect vaccination in any way. Very young children (under 12 months old) who have epilepsy may have their vaccination postponed while their condition is investigated and stabilised.

You should not receive a vaccine if you have had a confirmed clear allergic reaction to the same vaccine or another vaccine against the same disease.

A person with an allergy to eggs, can still receive influenza (flu) or yellow fever vaccines, even though these may contain egg proteins. This is usually done safely under expert supervision of a medical professional who can administer emergency treatment in case of a severe allergic reaction. If you have any concerns about vaccinations, discuss this with your epilepsy specialist nurse.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) may be an option if your seizures are not controlled after having tried more than one AED.

A small device (similar to a pacemaker) is inserted in thechest and connected via a wire to the left vagus/vagal nerve in the neck. The device has a very low electrical pulse. It is programmed to stimulate this nerve to reduce seizures. A magnet can also be used to start the electrical pulse if you feel a seizure coming on. If you want to know more about this form of treatment for seizures, contact our helpline.  We also have some information for both adults and children, which we can send out.


Vigabatrin is a generic drug used to treat partial and secondary generalised seizures. A common brand name for this drug is Sabril.

All drugs can have possible side effects. drowsiness, headache, fatigue, weight gain, depression, agitation, confusion, visual disturbance.

With all anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) it is important to make sure you get the same make each time. There can be small differences between different versions or makes of each drug. A different make can sometimes trigger a seizure for some people. If the packaging of your AEDs looks different speak to your pharmacist, epilepsy specialist nurse, GP or consultant about this. There is more information on AEDs in our Epilepsy and treatment guide.