If you don’t feel like reading one more word about Covid-19, you’ve got my sympathy. However, if you’re inclined, scan this Health Tip and perhaps pick up a fact or two you didn’t know.
Want to jump to my take-away? It’s this: When the vaccine is available to you, take it and thank your lucky stars it’s being offered to you. One in four people on our planet will likely not have access to a vaccine until 2022.
First, a few facts about Covid-19
- It can produce long-lasting symptoms (hence the Covid long-haulers) ranging from unpleasant to debilitating. It’s far more lethal than our yearly flu, which, you may already know, is no walk in the park itself.
- The virus is already very contagious, and new strains are being discovered that cause equally serious illness but are even more contagious than the one we’ve been dealing with for a year.
- Covid-19, which is airborne, is easily spread by people who have no symptoms. Hence the importance of masks, social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding time indoors with those not in your bubble.
- This virus not curable. The current treatments (plasma, antivirals) available to seriously ill hospitalized patients (and the president) may reduce severity but will not cure you.
Second, the vaccine
- The Covid-19 vaccine may be safer than most vaccines you’ve had in the past, mainly because it has zero additives or preservatives and is not made of inactivated virus. With that said, however, our commonly available vaccines (flu, measles, polio) are also very safe.
- Concerning side effects and allergic reactions, in the first 1.8 million doses exactly 21 people had severe allergic reactions, which were quickly halted with the usual treatment of epinephrine and antihistamines.
- Getting vaccinated might prevent you from getting Covid, but at the very least it will reduce the severity of illness if you do happen to get it. So far, the current vaccines protect against the new strains. However, you must continue to wear a mask, distance yourself from others outside your bubble, wash hands regularly, and avoid enclosed spaces that aren’t adequately ventilated. Click here and scroll down for five reasons why.
- The vaccine will not prevent you from spreading Covid-19 if you happen to be a symptom-free carrier (hence, the mask and social distancing even after your injection).
- The current vaccines require two injections, given some weeks apart. Getting only one injection may reduce the severity of any Covid-19 infection you acquire, but your protection is incomplete. It would be like taking half the antibiotics you were prescribed. Note: the vaccine developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Johnson & Johnson) requires just one injection. Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet received its coveted FDA approval.
- Sadly, studies have shown that almost one third of frontline health care workers are reluctant to take the vaccine. This is genuinely disturbing. When some of these individuals have been interviewed, their reasons are the all-too-common susceptibility to fiction over facts. Before physician Christiane Northrup’s video was removed by YouTube, it had gone viral and likely poisoned the minds of tens of thousands of people who are now at risk for Covid. More on this below.
- The Covid-19 vaccine does not “cause” the illness it’s supposed to protect you from. Many vaccines (the flu vaccine, for example) are made from weakened versions of the disease itself. Covid vaccine is not. For the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, scientists extracted a tiny piece of the virus’s DNA, which when injected is capable of triggering your immune system to produce antibodies that will kill off any invader (ie, Covid-19) with that same miniscule portion of DNA.
- The vaccine does not contain any of the additives that anti-vaxxers claim are problematic—no mercury, formaldehyde, aluminum, or other chemicals.
- The vaccine does not alter your own DNA. This insanity came from a doctor I truly respected until now–Christiane Northrup, MD–and who I learned recently has been active in the anti-vax movement. Dr. Northrup, who alleges the vaccine will damage your DNA (it won’t), also alleges the vaccine can render young girls sterile (untrue), contains particles that can be used to track our whereabouts with the new 5G phone systems (no), will be controlled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to collect biometric data that will be traded for cryptocurrency (not true), and will contain a special dye Luciferase (false, but great name) that governments will use to track our whereabouts. All this sounds like a rewrite of a Philip K. Dick novel, quite imaginative but completely false.
- The vaccine will not adversely affect your immune system. This assertion by Joseph Mercola, MD, has virtually no scientific backing, but he does offer to replace your avoidance of immunizations with a lot of products for sale on his website. It’s worth noting that, to date, Dr Mercola is the single largest donor ($2.9 million) to the militant anti-vax group the National Vaccine Information Center.
- The vaccine is not made from aborted fetuses and will not cause autism. During the development of any vaccine, including the ones for Covid, much effort is spent making sure they don’t cause cancer, birth defects, or sterility.
- I guess it shouldn’t surprise me, but by far the most vocal group of anti-vaxxers are not the back-to-the-land, eat-more-granola group, but rather the far-right conspiracy theorists. They don’t “believe” in masks, so it shouldn’t surprise us they don’t “believe” in a vaccine.
On Saturday 3,286 people in the US died from Covid. By comparison, in the Twin Towers disaster of September, 11, 2001, 2,977 people were killed. By the time you read this on Tuesday, total US deaths will have surpassed 400,000 and we have no idea how many of the survivors will be disabled for months with the effects of long-haul Covid.
On the very bright side, it is simply astonishing that scientists around the world worked together to create these vaccines so quickly. Yes, the US is running into snags getting the vaccines into arms, but this situation is improving.
Finally, and happily, it’s clear the Biden-Harris presidency will be one that respects science.
Pay no attention to dangerous conspiracy theories. These are the facts.
David Edelberg, MD
35 thoughts on “Covid Immunization: Facts, Not Fiction”
Thanks, Dr. Edelberg, you addressed all my concerns. I appreciate your advice and clarity.
We don’t know how long natural immunity following COVID lasts but if it behaves like other viral infections, probably less than a year. Recently scientists felt that patients who recovered from COVID can get by with one shot instead of two
Thank you for your reply. If my natural immunity will probably last less than a year, how long is the protection provided by a vaccine expected to last? Why would I want to take even one dose of the vaccine? If covid 19 does behave similar to other flus, what is the point in me getting a vaccine on top of my natural immunity? Won’t I just possibly need a newer vaccine in a year or two, just like the flu?
I have heard that the vaccine is not a complete protection from covid 19, meaning that you can still catch it, but your body will fight it off better, and you will not get as seriously ill. This is not a bad thing in itself – no free rides getting your immune system to work for you. The BIG problem is that, when you catch the virus, you can infect someone else.
That is NOT going to happen with my natural immunity, since I am NOT going to catch this virus to pass to someone else.
I was NEVER afraid of getting sick myself, and frankly, this covid thing was not anywhere close to being the worse thing I’ve ever had. My only concern was if I caught it and infected someone else, like my elderly parents.
There are thousands (millions?) of people around the world who have already contracted and recovered from Covid 19. I have not heard a firm answer on how long natural immunity will last. I have heard 3 months, 6 months, and “maybe much longer,” but no numbers. I have also never heard any firm numbers on how many people GET the disease after recovering from HAVING the disease. Please note I am not referring to people who have “tested” but not actually become sick. No numbers, just anecdotes. Has anyone studied whether or not natural immunity is better? More reliable? Lasts longer? Lasts shorter?
Until I get some real numbers, I’m going to assume that my natural immunity – that I earned the hard way – is going to have to do. Tomorrow I go to donate convalescent plasma. I’ll wait and see how this new vaccine experiment works out for everyone else.
I will take either vaccine if lucky enough to get it. But, if you had a choice between the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine, would you have a preference?
Hi Beth – there’s really no preference between the two, and a lot of what is available to people will be based on supply chain. The safety profile and effectiveness of both are essentially equal.
First, Jane: all the data I present in this Health Tip is based on the scientific data we have at hand. Unlike Dr. Mercola, personal “opinion” is not involved and I have nothing to gain financially about making a statement about being vaccinated. Dr. Northrup I simply can’t figure out but she seems to have backtracked on her bizarre opinions. I do agree that I’d like longer studies but with 400,000 dead and tens of thousands with long term effects (“long haulers”), we don’t have the luxury of time. Remember, the vaccines are approved for “emergency use.” The vaccines are not recommended for anyone under age 16 for two reasons. First, they were not tested on young people, and second, the young get milder versions of the disease. Nor were the vaccines tested specifically in pregnant women but the vaccine is not contraindicated during pregnancy or breastfeeding. If a pregnant woman develops COVID she has a slightly higher risk of preterm delivery but the newborns seem to take COVID in stride even when they test positive. For everyone else, including people with chronic illnesses of all kinds, the evidence, the scientific evidence is so strong that the vaccines are safe and effective, the medical community does recommend that people proceed and get immunized. Since you “personally know people who have had reactions,” both Pfizer and Moderna provide a list of what to expect all of which are pretty mild except in the very rare instance of a major allergic reaction. The companies also request that side effects get reported so tell your friends that keeping their reactions secret is not helpful to anyone. Since your note sounds like you’ll never be immunized, that’s your right. For your protection, you’ll depend on herd immunity which means you’ll just be relying on everyone else to get immunized so that you can be protected.
Second, to PR, I don’t know where “humility” fits in, but if your hematologist wants your son to hold off, he knows more about the situation and I am sure he is using his expertise to make that statement. If your son is under age 16, the vaccine isn’t recommended for him anyway
To everyone else with chronic illnesses (Lyme, MS, autoimmune), based on our long history of vaccine use, there is no evidence that when we stimulate our immune systems to create one antibody against one disease (e.g., flu, polio, smallpox) that this would have a cascade effect and bollix up everything else.
Finally, Albert, asking the important question about bars and concerts. I wish I knew and hope it’s ASAP!
Dr. David Edelberg
I’ve been waiting for this!! Thank you, Dr Edelberg!
This article is your opinion not science. You reject Mercola and Northrup but you yourself do not offer any science or site research that dispute their claim. There are no long term study on any of these vaccines. The longest study that could have been done is about 6 months. These vaccines have not been studied on children, pregnant women, people with autoimmunity or seniors. How can you say it is safe after only 6 months. For the sake of all the people who have been vaccinated, I hope you are right that this vaccine is safe. I personally know people who have had reactions to this vaccine and know that their adverse reactions were not reported. Their reactions were not just allergies but circulatory. As you criticize Mercola for donating money to Antivaxx campaign (no profit), you forget that the Bill Gates makes billions with his vaccine companies.
Great article. I am on the fence still with this one. With the death of those 23 people as a result of the vaccine I am going to watch for a bit. In all fairness they were very elderly and feeble, so there’s that. This fact for me shows that there are some things they still don’t know about the effects of the vaccine in some.
is the vaccine available at your office?
Hi Sharon – we do not have the vaccine at the office and are not yet sure if or when we’ll be able to get it. Please keep an eye on availability at community health centers and pharmacies in your area.
Thank you, Dr. Edelberg!
Thank you so much for your always sound and reasonable guidance.
Dr. Edelberg, how about a bit of humility? You don’t know how safe it is. No one knows. My son has an autoimmune disease and his well-respected hematologist said he would study the data for at least a year before he could feel good about recommending it. Many scientists/doctors at least as well-credentialed as you have concerns. It seems your political bias is clouding your objectivity, and that is not what I call good medicine. Very disappointing piece.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share this— the best article I’ve read about the vaccine so far!
Can you share any additional thoughts for pregnant women since they were excluded from the trials?
Thanks so much for this post.
Do you have any feeling about a Lyme Disease patient getting the vaccine? One on antibiotics?
You have not seen the patent that Microsoft holds to collect human movements as Crytpocurrency using the 5G network? It is easy to find just google patent search 60606. 666 are the last three numbers in Microsofts patent. Google it. You will find it. This is not a conspiracy
These drugs use a novel vaccination mechanism that has zero long-term safety data in large groups; the manufacturers demanded immunity from liability.
Telling the entire world to get an injection with no long-term safety data is simply reckless.
Thank you this is helpful but when can we go to concerts and bars again?
Thanks! As always, for shedding light on confusion & mis-information!
Please read this scientific article:
Is it safe for people with autoimmune diseases?
After trying to read the article, I give up! Does anyone truly know if someone w/MS or hypothyroid should take the vaccine?
Thank you, Dr. Elderberg, for your sanity and grounded writing, we are truly lucky to have you as a guide!
David, thank you so much! I don’t mind saying that trying to balance myself on the fence was precarious. I made an appointment for the vaccine, but it is not until mid April.
Thanks again for your sage advice.
Dr. David W Bailey, DC
I appreciate your concise information, and calling out Dr. Mercola who truly admits his forte is writing and computer knowledge which is beneficial to him and misleading to many. I feel I may be reactive to the vaccine due to being so sensitive, but know that it is more important to take it than not.
I can say this honestly having been a patient of both of you, Mercola for one visit of which I knew it was not for me, and you for my final years in the chicago area.. While I live out of state now my physician agrees with your evaluation …thanks for sharing.
Thanks Dr. E. You have erased any remaining trace of doubt. Being now eligible at age 65, my only hesitancy to getting it ASAP is a concern that the second dose might not be available in 3-4 weeks or that one of each brand will be administered. It might make sense to wait until the supply chain is more stable??
It seems that some of those supply chain issues are clearing up, but supply is so site-specific at the moment. You may consider asking at the time of sign-up for your first dose whether or not they have already procured supply for second dosages.
Thank you Doc. Clear, concise, and written with your usual wit. I especially appreciate calling out other doctors who, it seems, have drunk the Kool-Aid
Thank you Dr.Edelberg. As usual, you give us the clear facts, so we can make good decisions. I cannot wait to get the Covid-19 vaccine!
Should you get the vaccine if you have already had Covid? Will it protect from the new strains?
Hi there –
Evidence is mounting that current covid vaccines will be effective against new strains.
Currently we should not rely on prior covid exposure to give us immunity to repeat infections. For reference, here is the CDC screening questionnaire that shows questions you’ll likely be asked before getting the vaccine: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/downloads/pre-vaccination-screening-form.pdf
Thank you so much, David. Clear as usual.
Thanks for this excellent article. Just an fyi here that Luciferase is the name given to the enzyme found in lightning bugs that makes them glow. The luciferase gene is widely used in basic biomedical research… so it’s actually a thing but as you said it’s not part of the vaccine.
Sorry about your fall! Link isn’t working but I hope you are now making a good recovery.