When making both individual and public choices about the COVID-19 vaccine, it's important to weigh the risks versus the benefits, rather than thinking of it as "perfect versus evil."
Overall, I think the initial data on the Pfizer vaccine is promising. It has a much higher success rate than predicted. Its been fairly safe for the thousands of people who its been tested on, although initial muscle soreness or fevers were not uncommon. And though I prefer it somewhat over the Moderna vaccine, so far both seem reasonably safe and effective. And for the next six months, we will likely have limited availability of the Pfizer vaccine after the first batch has been used.
- Overall, the studies didn't include pregnant women, and I suspect they had relatively few people over 65. It appears that the researchers somewhat cherry picked participants for whom it was most likely to be effective and least likely to cause toxicity.
- I'm not seeing that studies are looking at some of the long-term issues that have been raised, such as the vaccines effect on fertility. If these issues aren't looked for, they wont be found — even if they're present.
- Instead of properly addressing the public's questions and concerns, those conducting the studies have occassionally responded somewhat dismissively with statements like "There's no clear evidence of that." That would be more comforting if they actually did the research to confirm that there was no evidence of these potential problems.
My suspicion is that the vaccines won't cause problems with fertility, as there have been no reports yet of infertility in women who have had the virus. Those women would have developed antibodies to the "protein spike" that might cross-react with their placenta. The difference, however, is that the vaccine is geared to trigger a much stronger reaction to that particular protein spike than would be triggered by the virus.
The Bottom Line
I wouldn't be eager to be among the first million people to receive the vaccine (unless I was in a nursing home). But that's a moot point anyway because the vaccine won't likely be available early on to anyone other than those in nursing homes and frontline healthcare workers. By the time it becomes available to the general public, we'll have had the opportunity to see its effect on at least a million early users who've been vaccinated. If it proves to be safe after those two to three months, I expect I'll take it myself. I would then also strongly recommend the vaccine for those over 60 years of age and those who have higher risk because of high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity. And perhaps those who have high-risk people living in their home or in the homes they visit, such as their grandparents.
I'm against any legal requirements that people take the vaccine. Those who want to take it should do so, and those who don't should simply decline. The argument that those who decline are harming others is specious, given the very high effectiveness claimed for the vaccines.
One thought to consider is this: Half the population has been so panicked by fear-based political and media reporting on the virus that the only emotional path we have to reopening and resuming normal living may be to convince everyone that the majority of the public has been vaccinated. Even this by itself would make the vaccine worthwhile, and would leave me hesitant to criticize the vaccines without very good and proven cause.
As we go through the upcoming months of vaccination, I'll be watching to see if people with fibromyalgia see their fibro flare problematically from the vaccines. And I'll keep our newsletter subscribers up on what I find. Fortunately, the virus itself has not been a problem for most people with CFS/FMS. So far, I've only seen the virus flare the CFS/FMS in one of the people I treat for fibro who also had the virus. And they've since returned to baseline after resuming S.H.I.N.E.® treatment.
So I also doubt the vaccine will be a problem for most.
Love and blessings,
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.