I was on a call with some friends who are doctors and nurses. Our conversation was about the new Covid-19 vaccine. It was a discussion about whether to get it or not and how it worked. It was a very long and very meaningful discussion.
We didn't really share what our final decisions were but I will share with you all some of the highlights of our discussion. BUT before that, first some background.
For those of you who don't know, I am not a proponent of vaccines.
To be clear, I am not an "anti-vaccer" in the traditional sense. I clearly understand how vaccines work and understand vaccine theory to be sound and legitimate science.
My issue is with production and protocol.
Tangent (please skip if you are not interested in my position on vaccines)
Here have been my arguments:
Vaccines are made with egg, aluminum and an adjuvant (irritant) to elicit an immune response. Not once, is a parent asked or a child checked for allergies to these ingredients. Also, there is no healthy or acceptable exposure to aluminum.
Doses for drugs can vary significantly based on sex, age and weight. However, children are given the same dosage for vaccines. In fact, there is no pre-screening for a child at all before a vaccine is given. There is a schedule and they stick to it. In my opinion, that is bad healthcare.
Your immune system takes about a year to fully develop after birth. Why do we start giving children vaccines from day one? They have not developed the proper immune function AND we are not a third world country. (By the way, the first vaccine is given at birth for Hep B, which is contracted by sex and IV drug use. For my newborn child??!)
Many are ineffective. Remember the whooping cough outbreak? The CDC specifically said that the vaccine was not effective and that you needed a booster to create immunity for up to 6 months. 6 months?! Immune science tells us that once you develop antibodies, you are immune for life, not 6 months.
Covid 19 vaccine
The current Covid 19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines. (Moderna & Pfizer)
To better understand this vaccine you need to understand mRNA's role in your body.
To put it very simply, your body copies your DNA by having each strand translated into an mRNA strand. That mRNA strand is then transcribed into a protein via tRNA and copies of your DNA are made.
In the case of the vaccine, an mRNA stand is manufactured and coated so that it can survive your bodies initial onslaught to kill something foreign. The mRNA strand is made specifically to produce "spike proteins" that will create anti-bodies specific to the Covid 19 virus.
Some important facts about the Covid 19 vaccine (CDC):
mRNA does not enter the nucleus of your cells therefore cannot impact the DNA. Meaning it will not cause mutations in your DNA.
the "spike proteins" are very specific to the Covid 19 virus
the mRNA vaccine technology is new but not unknown. It has been studied for over 10 years.
the Covid-19 vaccine does NOT have any live or weakened virus. So it will not cause a Covid infection.
The first part of our discussion revolved around the above science behind mRNA vaccines. We all agreed that the tech was new and maybe even "experimental" but the existing science was very good.
(there are many scientific studies on the use of mRNA vaccines being used on even cancer and autoimmune diseases- see references).
Social and public health responsibility vs. personal philosophy
These are unprecedented times.
Basically, no one living today has experienced anything like this.
And in extraordinary times what is our frame of reference?
Most of us on the call have our reservations regarding vaccines for similar reasons to what I outlined above. in general, most or all did not do vaccines unless required for travel.
However, as noted, these are extraordinary times.
Do we owe it to the people we serve to do the most that we can to ensure their overall health?
The general consensus was that it was more important to ensure that we were protecting our patients health than vigorously stick to our philosophical opposition. One story we discussed was about a Jewish ER doc that had to treat a neo-nazi who was suffering from Covid 19. He was also struck with the choice of the "his oath" vs. personal philosophy.
Did we really want to be in a position where we were the potential source of spread of the virus? Now, there might not be any real legal liability but there would be a strong emotional one.
What we believe about the bodies ability to heal
If we decided to get the vaccine, do we believe that we know how to support our bodies in such a way that any potential negative impact can be dealt with. Of course we did.
(If you want to know what those steps would be, please reach out via email and I will send you a note).
There were many other things we talked about during this discussion but those are the highlights. At the end what did we decide?
I have no idea what others decided. It was not the purpose of the talk.
What I decided was yes.
Yes, it was more important for me to support the overall public health of the patients than strictly adhere to my philosophy. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make. I kid you not.
So, a couple weeks ago I got the first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Most of the friends I know that got the vaccine told me they only had a sore arm which cleared up in a couple days.
As for me?
I had a strong immune response...of course.
I suffered from headache, fatigue, achiness and some dizziness.
After about 2 days I felt better.
After 4 days I was back to normal.
All those symptoms are within the normal ranges following the vaccine and NOT a severe or allergic reaction.
What's my position for others?
I wanted to explain what happened with me and the process I went through. I also wanted to present my discussion with other healthcare workers because I thought it was a very good discussion and I felt we talked about the questions most people would have.
I cannot tell you what to do. Haha, I know, that is not much of an answer.
But after all this, my thoughts are as follows:
If you are low risk and low exposure, let us healthcare people be the guinea pigs. If we are doing well in the next few months when it is available for the general public, go for it.
If you are cleared for the vaccine and have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disease, obesity or some combination of the above, if it were me, I would wait.
At the end of the day, its a discussion you will have with your loved ones and care givers you trust. I have given you what I think is important and I hope it helps make your decision easier.
Stay safe. Take care of each other.