COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

Image: a lab technician with a petri dish
  • Who is at highest risk for the severe form of COVID-19?
    • Pre-existing conditions - Those with pre-existing conditions such as: heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, obesity, alzheimers and the immune compromised.
    • Deficiencies - Those with deficiencies of vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C and zinc.
    • Age – as age increases the risk for worse outcomes from COVID-19 increases (see below for stats).
    • Smoking -- Smoking impairs lung function making it harder for the body to fight off coronaviruses and other respiratory diseases.
  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
    • Fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, diarrhea, or vomiting.
  • What is currently available for protection against the severe form of COVID-19?
    • Health!
    • Optimizing levels of vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, zinc, glutathione, and melatonin may help protect against a severe form of COVID-19. Also, helpful may include quercetin, turmeric, green tea, elderberry, and many other botanical medicines per individual case – discuss with your Naturopathic Doctor.
    • Adequate sleep, exercise, healthy nutrient dense diet, proper stress management.
    • Appropriate Naturopathic treatment at first sign of illness.
    • Washing hands and limiting exposure to those who are sick with COVID-19.
    • Monoclonal antibodies treatment may help when started in early stages of COVID-19.
    • Two vaccines against COVID-19 available (Pfizer and Moderna).  Other companies also have vaccines in the works that may be available in the future (AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson).
  • About the available vaccines (from the vaccine inserts):
    • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is an unapproved vaccine that may prevent COVID-19. There is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19.  The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has not undergone the same type of review as an FDA-approved or cleared product.  The FDA has authorized the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
    • The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is an unapproved vaccine that may prevent COVID-19. There is no FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine has not undergone the same type of review as an FDAapproved or cleared product. The FDA has authorized the emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
  • The 2 vaccines for COVID-19 available are a new type called “mRNA” vaccines.
    • Because these are brand new vaccines of a completely new type there is no long-term data available to answer questions like, “are there long-term side effects?”, “do these vaccines increase my risk for other diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, or other infections?”, “how long does protection last?”, etc.  We’ll learn more over the years as data is collected.
  • How does an mRNA vaccine work and can I get coronavirus from it?
    • The mRNA vaccines don’t contain any virus so you can’t get coronavirus form it.  The mRNA vaccine instructs your body to make a protein found on the virus that triggers an immune reaction.
  • Are there any ethical concerns with the available COVID-19 Vaccines?
    • Neither Pfizer nor Moderna used morally compromised cell lines in the design, development, or production of the vaccine. A confirmatory test, however, employing the commonly used, but morally compromised HEK293* cell line, was performed on both vaccines.  Thus, neither vaccine is completely free from any connection to morally compromised cell lines, however, in this case, the connection to the initial immoral act of the abortion is remote.
      * HEK293 has its origin in kidney cells taken from the body of a child aborted in the Netherlands in 1972​​​​​​
    • Another vaccine being developed, the AstraZeneca vaccine, is more morally compromised. The HEK293* cell line was used in the design, development, and production stages of that vaccine, as well as for confirmatory testing.
  • What are the ingredients of the available COVID-19 Vaccines?
    • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine includes the following ingredients:
      • mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.
    • The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine contains the following ingredients:
      • messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG] 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose.
  • Have the vaccines been studied?
    • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine are not FDA-approved and hence they have not undergone the same type of review as an FDA-approved or cleared product.  Preliminary research is available and ongoing.  Because these vaccines are a new type of vaccine there is no historical data available.  The long-term effects are unknown.
    • Pfizer: In clinical trials, approximately 20,000 individuals 16 years of age and older have received at least 1 dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.
    • Moderna: In clinical trials, approximately 15,400 individuals 18 years of age and older have received at least 1 dose of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine.
  • Tell me more about the studies and effectiveness?
    • Pfizer:
      • The study was funded and carried out by Pfizer and BioNTech whom also manufactured all the materials (ie the vaccine).  The study may be found at nejm_Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine.pdf.
      • The conclusion reported that a two-dose regimen of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine conferred 95% protection against Covid-19 in persons 16 years of age or older.  Of the 21,720 that received the vaccine there were 8 cases of Covid-19.  Of the 21,728 that received placebo there were 162 cases of Covid-19.
      • “Positive” for Covid-19 was considered symptomatic and a positive test (ie asymptomatic individuals who test positive weren’t included in the “positives”).
    • Moderna:
      • The Moderna study included 28,207 participants who received two doses (at 0 and 1 month) of either Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine (n=14,134) or placebo (n=14,073).  There were 11 COVID-19 cases in the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine group and 185 cases in the placebo group, with a vaccine efficacy of 94.1% (95% confidence interval of 89.3% to 96.8%).
      • “Positive” for Covid-19 was considered symptomatic and a positive test (ie asymptomatic individuals who tested positive weren’t included in the “positives”).  The criteria for the “positive for COVID-19” was stricter for the Moderna trial compared to the Pfizer trial.
      • The adverse reactions reported were pain at the injection site (92.0%), fatigue (70.0%), headache (64.7%), myalgia (61.5%), arthralgia (46.4%), chills (45.4%), nausea/vomiting (23.0%), axillary swelling/tenderness (19.8%), fever (15.5%), swelling at the injection site (14.7%), and erythema at the injection site (10.0%).
  • Anything important to know regarding effectiveness?
    • If you are going to get the vaccine it is important to know that both shots are required to achieve results mentioned above and it takes about 7 days after the 2nd shot for it work.
  • How long does the vaccine provide protection?
    • Unknown.
  • Do the vaccines currently available prevent contraction and transmission of coronavirus to others?
    • According to hopkinsmedicine.org, "while the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown at this time if you can still carry and transmit the virus to others." 
  • Are there any long-term risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccines?
    • Unknown.
  • What side effects have been reported so far?
    • Pfizer side effects reported (within 7 days) in preliminary research include: injection site pain • tiredness • headache • muscle pain • chills • joint pain • fever • injection site swelling • injection site redness • nausea • feeling unwell • swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), severe allergic reaction that can include: • Difficulty breathing • Swelling of your face and throat • A fast heartbeat • A bad rash all over your body • Dizziness and weakness.  These may not be all the possible side effects of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine. Serious and unexpected side effects may occur. Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is still being studied in clinical trials.
    • Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine side effects that have been reported (within 7 days) include: • Injection site reactions: pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, swelling (hardness), and redness • General side effects: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever.  Severe allergic reaction that can include: • Difficulty breathing • Swelling of your face and throat • A fast heartbeat • A bad rash all over your body • Dizziness and weakness.  These may not be all the possible side effects of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. Serious and unexpected side effects may occur. The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine is still being studied in clinical trials.
  • What should I do if I experience a side effect?
    • Schedule with your Naturopathic Doctor right away to evaluate and treat appropriately.
    • Call the Doctor who administered the Vaccine to evaluate and treat appropriately.
    • Complete and submit reports to VAERS online at: https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html. For further assistance with reporting to VAERS call 1-800-822-7967.
      • Please include “Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine EUA” in the first line of box #18 of the report form.
      • Please include “Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine EUA” in the first line of box #18 of the report form.
  • What should I do if I am injured from the Vaccine?
    • Work with your Naturopathic Doctor to recover your health.
    • The Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) is a federal program that may help pay for costs of medical care and other specific expenses of certain people who have been seriously injured by certain medicines or vaccines, including this vaccine. Generally, a claim must be submitted to the CICP within one (1) year from the date of receiving the vaccine. To learn more about this program, visit www.hrsa.gov/cicp/ or call 1-855-266-2427.
  • Is the vaccine safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding?
    • Available data on Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine administered to pregnant women are insufficient to inform vaccine associated risks in pregnancy.  Data are not available to assess the effects of Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion.  Therefore, the answer is currently unknown.

Statistics

Age related COVID-19 Statistics

  • The CDC reports the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the Unites states according to age group (as of January 27, 2021):
    • 2.5% (9,132 out of total 359,352 deaths) - Under 45 age group
    • 16.4% (58,791 out of total 359,352 deaths) - 45-64 age group
    • 81.1% (291,429 out of total 359,352 deaths) - 65 and over age group
  • Or broken down further:
    • 0.03% age newborn to 14,
    • 0.1% age 15-24,
    • 0.6% age 25-34,
    • 1.7% age 35-44,
    • 4.6% age 45-54,
    • 12% age 55-64,
    • 81% age 65 and older.

NOTE – the above percentages are COVID-19 related deaths in each age group compared to the total number of COVID-19 related deaths.  The numbers are NOT the Case fatality rate (the % COVID related deaths compared to total COVID Cases).

  • The infection fatality risk (IFR) according to John Hopkins COVID resource center is:
    (IFR is looking at the number of confirmed cases that end in death or the odds of death if a person gets COVID)
    • Global - 2% (2,249,231 deaths / 103,744,194 confirmed cases)
    • US - 1.7% (446,403 deaths / 26,415,433 confirmed cases)
  • According to one study (Lancet Infect Dis 2021; 21: 203–12) the infection fatality risk was estimated as the following in New York City during the period March 1 to June 6, 2020:
    • Overall infection-fatality risk of 1.39% (95% credible interval 1.04–1.77) in New York City.
    • Infection-fatality risk according to age group:
      • 0.116% (0.0729–0.148) for those aged 25–44 years
      • 0.939% (0.729–1.19) for those aged 45–64 years
      • 4.87% (3.37–6.89) for those aged 65–74 years
      • 14.2% (10.2–18.1) for those aged 75 years and older.

NOTE – if you are wondering what is the risk of death if I get COVID?  The answer is -- it depends.

  • Overall, the percentage risk is likely lower than those above in the study because the number of people who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and never report for a test is not considered whereas most COVID-19 related deaths are considered.  The study was in New York City in March 2020, which was early on when treatment methods were not as good and hence now the fatality risk may be lower.
  • In other words, if all the asymptomatic and mild symptomatic cases that never presented to confirm the diagnosis were counted in the total numbers then the percentage that ended in death would be lower and hence the risk of death would be lower.
  • Also, note that your actual risk depends on your age, preexisting conditions, nutrient status, lifestyle, etc.  If you are older than 65, smoke, have preexisting conditions and are deficient in vitamin D and vitamin K and zinc then your risk is higher.  If you are younger than 65, don’t smoke, have no preexisting conditions, and have optimal levels of Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and zinc then your risk is lower.
  • For example, using the data above if you are 25 years old your fatality risk if you get COVID is likely less than 0.116% but may be a little higher if you have diabetes, hypertension and nutrient deficiencies.  Or said another way, the odds of recovery in this example are 99.9% (or 99.884 for those who don't like to round).

February 15, 2021

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