You have most likely already heard that the COVID vaccine has been approved. I have had numerous questions on whether or not you should get the vaccine. As always, I try to keep my personal opinion out of this and just report the facts that I can find to address the common concerns. Here is what I found…. READ ON
Addressing vaccine concerns is never a favorite topic of mine and this one is the worst only because this vaccine is so new finding information that isn’t hype was difficult. Yet here we are having to make the decision on whether or not to get the vaccine. Let’s dive in to what I found….
- Concerns about the short trials of efficacy: the studies used to investigate this vaccine are about the same length as they have used to investigate other vaccines (you just didn’t realize how short of trials are considered acceptable did you?)
- Concerns about length of time of development of vaccine: while this is a short time span that catapulted the COVID vaccine to the forefront, apparently mRNA technology has been being evaluated for nearly a decade. mRNA vaccines have been in clinical trials for a variety of other viruses including Zika, CMV, influenza and others prior to COVID. For example, the Zika vaccine first used mice in their trials and in 2019 started a phase 1/2 clinical study for people. *see #5 for CDC comments on these trials
- Concerns about the vaccine altering DNA: I’m going to take you back to basic (and very over-simplified) science. Messenger RNA (mRNA) is created inside the nucleus by copying a piece of DNA and then transported OUT of the nucleus into the surrounding cytoplasm where it has been coded to do one job (hence the name messenger). Once that job is done there are enzymes that break it down and remove it. It doesn’t go back into the nucleus to get another job. The COVID vaccine is a mRNA vaccine that will be entering the cell from the outside and go into the cytoplasm where it will do its’ job and be removed like all other mRNA. Since mRNA doesn’t go back into the nucleus where the DNA is genetic alteration of the DNA doesn’t occur by at least that mechanism. **when looking at the literature I was looking for actual studies evaluating mRNA function that were done pre-covid vaccine to try to avoid bias by the vaccine industry. If you know of a science article that disputes this I would be very interested in seeing it.
- Concerns about the vaccine causing the disease: this is not a live vaccine so any side-effects should be from the immune response itself.
- Concerns about side-effects of the vaccine: I have yet to see the actual data from the trials reporting the side-effects, hopefully this will be published soon. CDC is actually preparing a guideline of how to navigate and prepare for health care workers time off related to side-effects though so it sounds like they can be significant. Bell’s palsy has been reported in one article I read. Individual case reports talk about high fever, chills and body aches that are short lived but significant and since the vaccine has been used in Europe there have been a few significant allergic reactions in people who have had a known propensity toward allergic reactions and carried a version of an epi-pen. Prior mRNA vaccines have had issues with side-effects. According to the CDC website: “Early stage clinical trials using mRNA vaccines have been carried out for influenza, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Challenges encountered in these early trials included the instability of free RNA in the body, unintended inflammatory outcomes, and modest immune responses.” They are quick to add: “Recent technological advancements in RNA biology and chemistry, as well as delivery systems, have mitigated these challenges and improved their stability, safety, and effectiveness.”
- Concerns about safety for children: One of the members of the committee that was responsible for passing the vaccine wanted the recommendation of making the 16 and 17 year old age group a special group needing more investigation but the other members voted for including this group. There are a few trials occurring with children right now and the decision on whether or not to vaccinate children most likely won’t occur until late 2021.
Most of you won’t have to make a decision on whether or not to take this vaccine for many more months so don’t fret or even try to decide right now. You will have more information as more and more people get it from the phase 1 groups. If you are in the phase 1 group then you need to make a decision that is right for you. This is a very personal decision. Take a good honest look at your risk factors which are male sex, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, impaired immune function and I would add any prior lung condition. Stay away from facebook and only focus on the real data and in the end just make the best choice you can.
I’m sure over the upcoming months I will be adding more to this evaluation just like my COVID Protocols have evolved so stay tuned!
To your health,