Do I take the COVID vaccine or not?
Hello and Happy New Year to all of you!
I know this year has been extremely challenging for all of us, and it has been no less difficult for us here at BIH. Therefore, we have all been looking forward to finding a solution and an end to this Pandemic we are in. The excitement over vaccination has been robust and we are finally here after a very long year. I have been asked by many patients what my opinion and recommendation is regarding this new vaccination and if it is safe and effective to take. My oath is to first do no harm and so I take this request and responsibility seriously and therefore have been taking my time to gather the data available before making a recommendation to all of you.
At first I was extremely hesitant about the idea of rushing a vaccine and especially using a never approved synthetic messenger RNA vaccine to vaccinate our world. The clinical trials from Pfizer and Moderna seemed to study a limited number of people and they only had a few months of data to work with, which is unlike the typical requirements needed to approve a vaccination. Based on the information available, it was inappropriate for me to tell you that the vaccine was safe for you to take. However, as time has passed, multiple millions of people have been vaccinated and more data has been collected regarding the possible risks and side effects of this vaccine. Honestly, most of my initial concerns have been alleviated, and I am therefore much more comfortable with this new vaccine and if I dare say, I am actually excited about the possibilities of using this technology for vaccinations in the future.
Let me be clear, I am still not feeling comfortable enough to tell you “yes this is completely safe and you should take this because there is no risk to you,” simply because the vaccines are so new and the long-term safety data is still unknown, however thus far the results of the vaccine and a 94-5% efficacy rate are promising for sure.
There have now been about 35 million doses of the vaccine given around the world.
Health care providers are required to report any severe vaccination reactions to the VAERS reporting system, and so far there have been 21 cases of anaphylaxis (severe reaction) reported. The most common reactions are mild and include; fatigue, body aches, fever, achy joints, headaches, injection site redness and pain for 2-20 days post vaccination. For many patients’ the reaction to the vaccine may be similar to getting COVID and for certain people they would rather deal with 2-20 days of mild symptoms instead of taking the risk of getting a more severe reaction and possibly death if they contract COVID-19.
There was one death a few days ago after a physician received the mRNA vaccine, but it has not yet been confirmed that it was directly related to the vaccination, but it seems likely (see link below) https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/12/health/covid-vaccine-death.html
When analyzing studies for efficacy and safety it is important to look for peer reviewed data. At first I was concerned about the lack of peer reviewed data on these vaccines, considering the preliminary data was coming from the vaccine producers themselves, however the New England Journal of Medicine did finally post their peer reviewed data on December 31st 2020 confirming the safety and efficacy of the mRNA vaccine. It is important to note that this was also funded by BioNTech and Pfizer, but according to NEJM, an independent data and safety monitoring board did review the data for safety and efficacy before publishing their findings. I am personally looking for an objective study that has not been paid for by the company selling the vaccine, but now that the vaccines are in the general population, there is an enormous amount of data being collected in real time and there will continue to be post-market surveillance on safety from the trials and the general population, which is typically required by the FDA. To note, the FDA typically requires 1-2 years of post-market surveillance before approval for a vaccination, but the Emergency Use Authorization allowed the approval to happen after only a few months of data due to this being a time sensitive health crisis.
Peer reviewed study
Another concern of mine about this novel vaccine was what would be added to the vaccine that could make them harmful. Most other vaccines on the market contain harmful contaminants such as Formaldehyde and MSG, as well as the heavy metals Aluminum and Thimerosal (Mercury). These preservatives have been linked to auto-immune diseases and even autism, due to the over-activation of the immunity when challenged with a virus and a toxin at the same time. I was therefore relieved to find out these two vaccines do not include these preservatives. These vaccines do however have PEG (polyethylene glycol), which has been associated with cancer. However, I do not believe that getting 2 vaccine doses will cause a significant risk of cancer, but they may still cause allergic reactions in certain people.
You do need to know that the Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 protects vaccine manufactures against any wrongful doing lawsuits that may be related to adverse health or deaths from vaccinations.
So let’s take a deeper look into the vaccines approved and the technology they are using.
On December 11th 2020 the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for the BNT162b2 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech for individuals aged 16 or older. The approval was for a novel mRNA technique.
So what is a mRNA vaccination anyway?
Moderna (specifically Dr. Katalin Kariko) developed this technology where part of the coronavirus's genetic code (not the whole virus) is injected into the muscle. The idea is that the mRNA will teach our cells to make viral proteins that will trigger our immune system to respond to the viral attack. The majority of the cells that take up the RNA liposomes are macrophages, which quickly transcribe the RNA and call in another part of our immune system called T cells, which will mount a response and then destroys the RNA. From there on out our body should have the ability to mount an immune response if it sees the virus again and most patient’s will not get sick. However, you can still get the virus and pass it to others without knowing it.
It is important to note that the mRNA is transcribed in the cytoplasm “inside the cell” but not in the nucleus of the cell, (the nucleus is where the DNA is kept) therefore it cannot interfere with DNA replication. DNA is regularly transcribed into RNA but the reverse doesn’t happen, as RNA can’t make it back into DNA. Therefore, the concerns about the virus getting into germ cells affecting fertility and offspring are unwarranted. Whew!!!
This mRNA technology is not new and has been studied on mice for 20 years. However, it seems that the synthetic RNA injection of the virus was causing exaggerated immune reactivity and therefore was not safe for humans. The article below will explain the process of how they figured out how to “cloak” the virus using a modified nucleoside into the RNA and therefore found it to be less reactive regarding immune response. They also realized the amount injected didn’t need to be as high to offer protection and therefore they paired the dosing amount back as well.
To learn more, see link below
There is still a lot we don’t know about these vaccines and as a critical thinker it’s good to keep questioning.
Can you pass the virus despite having had the vaccination? The answer appears to be yes but studies have not been done
Does it protect everyone? Based on small studies a small percentage, <5% will still get sick but the symptoms and duration of illness will be reduced
What about slow to surface side effects and long-term effects? They don’t know yet as the trials are only in the 4th month when typically 1-2 years are required to understand long-term effects before approving a vaccination (but this has received EUA approval)
How long will the vaccine provide protection? They don’t know yet
Will this vaccine protect us from other strands of SARS-Cov-2 viruses and what about the mutation of the current strange? They don’t’ know yet
There are additional factors that can impact a patient’s response and efficacy to these vaccines and the primary one is “immune status”. If someone is on an immunosuppressive medication, the response won’t be as robust. Older people are also less likely to respond but might be related to their altered microbiome gut health.
Speaking of personal immunity and microbiome health, we know that this is not the first and certainly won’t be the last virus to impact us as humans. The unhealthier we become due poor diets, eating excessive sugar, environmental toxins, closer contact with wild animals, having an undiversified microbiome, (from GMO foods, toxins, infections and more) as well as living in a stressed out culture, the higher the risk we will have from dying of many viruses.
If you truly want to feel empowered and less fearful, you need to work on your personal health and be a model for those around you. The message we are hearing loud and clear from this Pandemic is that uncontrolled Heart Disease, Hypertension and Diabetes are significant health risk factors and have impacted specific populations with these co-morbidities at a dramatically higher rate than others (there are a few outliers, but this is basically the truth). If we are healthy, we can trust our own immunity and therefore we will be able to respond to whatever comes at us now and in the future.
I have written a newsletter about how important our microbiome diversity is for us and also about specific nutrients being key for optimizing our immunity, so please review those newsletters on the website blog if not already done so. And get off the sugar!
Per popular request, I have compiled a “COVID” package for prevention and support if you contract COVID-19, if you are needing some guidance. I did not include a probiotic in the package since there are many types and brands out there, but we have a few high-quality options if you are not already on one. Probiotics not only support a healthy microbiome and our endogenous immunity, but it can improve vaccine efficacy as well. You must also feed the good bacteria with prebiotic foods such as; chicory root, leeks, onions, garlic, asparagus, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, oats and apples.
In the end, ultimately you need to decide what is best for your body and if you want this vaccine, but either way I am encouraging you to increase your immunity with nutrients to fight all disease and work to improve your overall health and wellness for optimal living.
Because many people have asked, I will personally not be taking the vaccine unless it is mandated for travel and instead I will be relying on my health, my own immunity, utilizing supplements and getting my weekly IV Vitamin C therapy to protect me. I realize I am in my 40’s and healthy already, so I have a different situation than many of my patients who might be immunocompromised or have co-morbidities increasing their risks of getting a severe reaction to the COVID-19 virus.
My enthusiasm for a healthier society, one free of chemicals and toxins with better nutrients in our soil and having access to healthy organic food is unwavering. However, we must work with the assaults that come our way and one method that has helped our societies through infectious health crisis’s in the past is vaccinations. If we have truly found a new way to vaccinate without using harmful toxins and heavy metals, then I am overjoyed at the possibilities. The jury is still out with the mRNA technology, however the promise is growing and I will be tracking the data and safety in the hopes we have transparency and honesty in the protection we all need through this process.
Until then, stay healthy, stay calm, keep your mask on and carry on!
Phase 3 trials updated studies https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2034577
(Funded by BioNTech and Pfizer; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT04368728. opens in new tab.)
Resources (please copy and paste in your browser if links are not active)
Intravenous Vitamin C short history and use for COVID-19
Nutrients studied for supporting immunity against COVID and Influenza alike- such as
glutathione, Elderberry, Zinc, Selenium and more
Vaccination rates worldwide
Adverse reporting statistics
Comparison of Emergency use vs the normal vaccine approval process
Lancet Infectious Diseases 10.27.2020 “what defines an efficacious COVID-19 vaccine?
another perspective for critical thinking if you should get the vaccine
CDC guidance for vaccinating patients with underlying medical issues
According to the CDC, here is a list of “what to expect after getting the vaccine”
Facts according to the CDC