Updated: 4 days ago
OUR COVID-19 VACCINE OPINION
Steve and Bonnie: The sad truth is that we may not have needed a vaccine if we all had optimal vitamin D levels. A study from American Journal of Clinical Pathology found an almost 4-fold increase in death for hospitalized subjects with vitamin D deficiency. The United Kingdom and other nations understand this, and have given out free vitamin D3 supplements to the most vulnerable.
It is a complete and utter failure of our government and public health experts not to address this issue on a nationwide scale. Moreover, the failure is compounded when there has been no discussion about improving our health and wellbeing during the pandemic. It is human nature to want to spend billions on a miracle vaccine, instead of millions on cheaper measures such as vitamin D testing and supplementation.
But we digress. The longer this pandemic drags on, the worse it is for our economy, mental health, and much more. So everyone wants our opinion on the COVID vaccine and that is what you will get.
Not only did we listen to the FDA Committee sessions on the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, but we have pored over copious amounts of data so that we can make the following suggestions. Note that the following concerns only the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which have both received emergency authorization. No other COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the United States.
Are the vaccines effective? We think so. The function of these vaccines is different from any other vaccine that have been used on humans. It is almost 20 years in the making. mRNA vaccine research started after the first SARS outbreak over 17 years ago. Until now, it has never worked. One recent study by MIT researchers in Cell Systems suggest they may not do as well covering people of Black or Asian genetic ancestry as they do for white people. There is no current way to test for this on a population-wide scale, however.
Does the vaccine contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus? No. While many other vaccines to be introduced will contain the virus, this vaccine only contains information (messenger RNA) that tells our immune system how to attack a specific part of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the spike protein). This is what excites us the most about the possibilities of mRNA vaccines. They are noninfectious and contain no viral foreign proteins. Can the vaccine cause harm? In certain individuals, it seems so. Nobody truly knows how our immune systems will react to the RNA itself on a population-wide scale. Until more safety data appears, we recommend those with severe allergies (that cause anaphylaxis), self history or family history of Bell's palsy, and autoimmune diseases postpone getting the vaccine. For a definition of autoimmune disease and to see the list of more than 80 diseases, please refer to the this page at National Institutes of Health. Recently, there is evidence of select inflammatory reactions in those with dermal fillers. The FDA and CDC have watered down their safety recommendations already, but we are steadfast in sticking to the aforementioned suggestions.
Does the vaccine contain harmful preservatives and adjuvants? Very few and much less than any vaccines that have preceded them. One reason we are encouraged by the mRNA vaccine is it does not require adjuvants such as aluminum or mercury to super-excite the immune system, or preservatives such as formaldehyde to kill any contaminants from foreign material and the like. Some experts suspect that the allergic reactions that have occurred so far could be due to a component of the nanoparticle called polyethylene glycol, which is in both vaccines.
What will I feel like after getting the vaccine? Public health officials are not sweeping the vaccine side effects under the rug. The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine requires two doses 21 days apart. Moderna requires two doses 28 days apart. There will most likely be discomfort after one or both injections, especially at the injection site. The majority of you will get one or more of the following right away, or 2 or 3 days after injection: injection site pain, fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, and joint pain. We are concerned for those with allergy anaphylaxis history, self history or family history of Bell's palsy, or autoimmune disease, which is why we suggest waiting for more safety data in these individuals.
Is there a SARS-CoV-2 titer to test immunity in those who have had COVID-19? Not one that anyone has full confidence in. Besides the fact that we really don't know how long antibodies of adaptive and innate immunity will last, some research shows that those who have had COVID-19 do not exhibit optimal immunity. If you already had COVID-19 that is documented, you can certainly wait longer than most to see more safety data, and for a titer test. Are Pfizer, Moderna, and the FDA hiding anything? At this time, they do not appear to be. This has been the most transparent process we have ever witnessed for a vaccine rollout. The fact that vaccines often take a decade(s) to get approved, and this vaccine received emergency approval in less than one year, warrants the over-the-top transparency. However, the Food & Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control have watered down the strength of their safety warnings already. We will not downplay the seriousness of safety when it comes to these vaccines and will keep you informed every step of the way.
Is this vaccine approved for children or pregnant women? No, the Pfizer/BioNTech has only been approved for 16 years and older and the Moderna for 18 years and older.
Will the vaccine eradicate SARS-CoV-2? We don't believe so. The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control both state that SARS-CoV-2 will be with humans for the duration, but in a much less virulent capacity if we are inoculated, much like the common cold affects humans currently. We have already seen the United Kingdom warn the world of a much more contagious mutated strain affecting their population. The wonderful thing about mRNA vaccines is that they can be quickly manipulated to address mutations that may occur.
Can I stop wearing a mask and social distancing if I get the vaccine? Public health experts are saying you cannot. When a vaccine is even 95 percent effective, it still means in 5 out of every 100 people, it is ineffective. If those five people stop engaging in behaviors like social distancing and mask-wearing before the pandemic ends, they may still suffer the gravest consequences of COVID-19. When will the vaccine be available to everyone? In the United States, it will be introduced in phases. Healthcare workers, nursing home residents, and essential workers are getting it now. For the general population, it depends on who you listen to. Dr. Anthony Fauci says spring, while incoming Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says mid summer to early fall.
How do the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccine differ? The vaccines both use a genetic molecule called mRNA that is enclosed in a nanoparticle to deliver instructions to cells to make the coronavirus’ spike protein, which the virus uses to break into cells. The immune system then learns to recognize and defend against the spike when it is encountered in an infection.
While both vaccines showed virtually the same success rate in reducing infections requiring hospitalization, early evidence suggests that Moderna’s may do a better job fending off symptoms as early as two weeks after the first dose (80 percent versus 50 percent). Some early data also suggest that the Moderna vaccine might protect vaccinated people from asymptomatic infections as well as symptomatic disease.
It seems that side effects from Moderna's vaccine are more frequent than in the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Should I get the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine?
We believe so, with exceptions. If you have allergy anaphylaxis history, self history or family history of Bell's palsy, or autoimmune disease (there are over 80 of them), we suggest waiting for more safety data. By the time that the vaccine will be available to most of us, there will be much more data to make informed decisions.
How can I minimize the side effects of these vaccines?
At a later date, when we have some more time to assess the safety data and side effects of the vaccine, we will discuss a pre- and-post vaccine injection protocol that may assist with amelioration of symptoms. There is one suggestion we can confidently make for anyone who gets the vaccine now. Have an ice pack with you to put on the injection site immediately after inoculation. Then, put it on the injection site every 30-60 minutes throughout the first day. This will help reduce inflammation.
We have heard accounts of individuals taking ibuprofen or other pain medication prior to and after the injection. This is not recommended at this time for two reasons. First, there is no guidance on this from the vaccine manufacturers. Second, the purpose of the vaccines are to induce an immunological reaction. If pain medication blunts the immunological reaction, you may not get the protection the vaccines are meant to deliver.
If you receive the COVID-19 vaccine and have side effect, you are encouraged to report it through the CDC's V-Safe app.