On the vaccines, there is a mix of good news and bad news. Early results of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines appear to be even better than we'd initially hoped. They have had a much higher success rate than predicted and have overall been fairly safe, of course with some exceptions, in the thousands of study participants who've been inoculated with them (mostly muscle soreness and fevers that some have experienced). I favor Pfizer and Moderna over the one from Johnson & Johnson because these vaccines don't include the virus in their formulations, making them less likely than other vaccines to trigger fibro flares.
- Not enough diversity among test subjects. The Pfizer and Moderna studies did not include pregnant women and had relatively few people over 65. I suspect this may be because they cherry picked study participants who were more likely to have safer, more effective outcomes.
- Absence of fertility studies. I'm not seeing long-term studies being conducted to assess concerns that have been raised on potential fertility issues. If issues such as this aren't looked for, they aren't going to be found even if present. So the statement "we've seen no evidence…" is basically meaningless.
- Inadequate responses to other concerns. Instead of properly addressing the public's questions and concerns, I'm too often seeing responses like "there's no clear evidence of [fill in the blank]." Again, that might be more comforting if vaccine makers actually did the research to examine these questions.
I suspect (and hope) that the vaccines won't cause problems with fertility, because we aren't seeing infertility in women who've had the virus. These women would also have developed antibodies to the "protein spike" that might cross-react with the 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. So I am not yet recommending the vaccine for women who may still want to have children. Though the risk is low, the risk of death from infection is this group is extremely low as well. So I am waiting on recommending the vaccine in this group for my folks with CFS/FMS. The exception? Those with other severe health conditions, or who live in a household with someone at high risk, like an elderly grandparent. But go with what feels best to you, as it is likely safe either way.
Should You Get It?
I wouldn't have wanted to be among the first 20 million people to receive a vaccination (unless I was in a nursing home). But we've now had 50 million US vaccinations with no significant problems found (special shout out of gratitude to those "guinea pigs").
As of today I recommend getting "the jab" (or jabs) for those in nursing homes or at high risk. If the vaccines continue to prove safe by mid-March to early April of this year, I'll be confident enough to take it myself.
Vaccinations Shouldn't Be Legally Required
I'm against any legal requirements that force people to get vaccinated. Those who want to take a vaccine should do so, and those who don't should be free to decline. This doesn't need to be complicated. The argument that people who refuse vaccination are unfairly putting others at risk is specious, because, since the vaccines are purported to be so highly effective, those who receive vaccinations should expect to be reasonably protected anyway. With that said, I would strongly urge everyone over 60 years of age or with higher risk health conditions (high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, etc.) to get the vaccination when their turn comes up.
But May Be Needed Emotionally
Partisan politics and, at times, media misreporting (on both sides) have created a state of crippling fear in many. At this point it may be emotionally unavoidable that the majority of the public become vaccinated just to create the public confidence our country needs to open back up and resume normal living. Creating this confidence itself likely makes the vaccine worthwhile. (It also leaves me reluctant to criticize vaccination efforts without a very good reason.)
- My advice on getting the vaccine is generally no different for people who have CFS/fibromyalgia and those who don't (though I'm a bit more cautious in recommending vaccination in people with CFS/FMS under 65 years old who have a history of severe vaccine reactions).
- Those with CFS/fibromyalgia who choose to be vaccinated should try to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead of the one from Johnson & Johnson. This is because of the three, only the Johnson & Johnson version contains actual live virus, and people with CFS/FMS may react more severely to that.
- Woman without special risk factors for the virus (no diabetes, obesity, etc.) who want to have more children in the future might want to wait for more study data to ensure there are no adverse fertility effects from vaccination.
- I don't recommend vaccination for people under 20 years of age, with the exception of those living in a household with someone at high risk who needs the added protection.
- If no major vaccine issues are found by mid-March, I think it'll of safe for anyone who wants vaccination to get it.
- If you're over 65 and have a significant risk factor, take the vaccine now.
Medications and Over-the-Counter Aids If You Have Symptoms
It remains to be seen how long the vaccine will be effective and its effectiveness against new strains. But those are bridges to cross later. For now, in those with symptoms suggestive of the virus, I recommend speaking with your physician about the medication ivermectin. A meta-analysis of four prospective placebo-controlled studies showed an 83% decrease in death versus placebo in people who had the infection. The medication has been used very safely for many decades and is commonly given for head lice.
In those at somewhat higher risk, I would also suggest you speak with your physician about adding the medication Luvox (fluoxetine), an antidepressant that was associated with ZERO pandemic-related deaths in two studies. None of 145 people who received Luvox died or had significant worsening of their illness, compared to marked worsening and deaths in the untreated group. However, being an antidepressant and taking it at the somewhat larger doses used in the studies can cause some nuisance side effects, whereas the ivermectin is very well tolerated. So speak with your doctor about starting with just the ivermectin, adding in the Luvox in higher risk people.
Ivermectin dosing: The Ivermectin dosing is 1 mg for each 10 pounds of body weight, to a maximum of 18 mg, taken as a single dose. They come in 3 mg tablets. The whole treatment costs about $15.
Luvox dosing: Take Luvox 50 mg immediately, then for 2 days at a dose of 100 mg twice daily as tolerated, and then increase to a dose of 100 mg 3 times daily as tolerated through day 15. Caution: If on other serotonin antidepressants, your doctor may use a lower dose of the other antidepressant for those 2 weeks.
Over-the-counter measures you can take to support your immune system and help protect you from the virus include zinc (50 mg a day), vitamin C (2,000 mg a day), and vitamin D (5,000 units daily). People can do all the above at the first signs of infection without waiting for your test results.
More information on these two medications:
- Fluvoxamine vs Placebo and Clinical Deterioration in Outpatients With Symptomatic COVID-19
- The antidepressant fluvoxamine could keep mild COVID-19 from worsening
- Ivermectin Associated with 83% Lower Risk of Death from COVID
- FLCCC Ivermectin in the Prophylaxis and Treatment of COVID-19 (PDF Download)
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.