by Dr. Michael Polsinelli
As someone who has devoted a significant part of my life to health and natural healing, I’ve never considered getting a flu shot. I’ve not had any vaccinations or antibiotics since I was a teenager. At the same time, I have tried to avoid imposing my personal views on my patients. I truly believe that we are each on our health journey and I strive to be a point of reference and an offering of new possibilities. Not so much a guide as much as a resource.
There are two vaccines being administered in the USA. They are made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Both of these are mRNA (messenger RNA) vaccines that insert the genetic code into our bodies that stimulate our cells to produce viral spike proteins. The body then launches an immune response against the proteins which also works against the Covid-19 virus. This immune response increases as time goes on and after two weeks from the first dose our bodies have about a 50% immunity to the virus. A second dose 3-4 weeks afterwards brings the immunity to 95% within another month.
There are many other vaccines in the testing phase using different technologies to create an immune response, but so far, only the mRNA vaccines are being administered to the public. According to the FDA, the most common side effects from all the vaccines are pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and chills. Because the vaccines are trying to cause an immune response, many of these side effects are to be expected. These are short term and go away within a couple of days. I am telling patients to plan on experiencing one of these mild side effects. Other side effects are found with different vaccines still in trial.
In addition to the mRNA, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ingredients are: ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl) azanediyl)bis (hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), ALC-0159 = 2-[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine, cholesterol, potassium chloride, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, sodium chloride, disodium hydrogen phosphate dihydrate, sucrose, and water for injections.
The Moderna vaccine ingredients are 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.,
In the FDA’s toxicity grading scale, a severe (Grade 3) reaction can be defined as the inability to perform daily activities. This includes needing to take the day off from work from a bad headache, nausea, flu symptoms, fatigue, muscle pain, severe pain, or the inability to lift). Other reactions that are considered severe are swelling or redness that is larger than 10cm, fever greater than 102.1 F, a racing heartbeat, or high or low blood pressure. A Grade 4 reaction would cause a visit to an emergency room or hospitalization. In the vaccine trials, 9.6% of the Moderna subjects and 4.6% of Pfizer/BioNTech subjects had a Grade 3 (severe) reaction. Less than 0.1% of Moderna subjects experienced a Grade 4 reaction (with no Pfizer/BioNTech experiencing a Grade 4 reaction). Grade 1 reactions are very common with most people experiencing muscle aches, headaches, or fatigue. The original report from the FDA can be downloaded here for Pfizer/BioNTech, and here for Moderna.
Since the FDA approved the vaccines the most serious reactions have been severe allergic events. As of December 29, seven reported cases have been reported with one being from the Moderna vaccine and six from the Pfizer/BioNTech. One of the ingredients common to both vaccines is suspected to be the cause of these reactions. For perspective, there have been close to two million doses given in the United States.
To help ensure the safety of the Covid-19 vaccines, the CDC has launched a site and mobile app to track adverse reactions and side effects. I am recommending that people that decide to get vaccinated to take part in this program.
On the one hand, the long term effects of these vaccines are unknown, and while the likelihood of an extreme reaction is low, the likelihood of a mild reaction is high.
On the other hand, Covid-19 has killed almost 350,000 people in the US. This number will continue to rise in the coming weeks. More and more of us have known someone who has died, and not all of them were old. Only 20% of the cases are truly asymptomatic, with presymptomatic cases able to spread the disease two days before symptoms appear. There are also many survivors dealing with long term changes.
The seriousness of this disease has me rethinking my prejudices against vaccinations. Cuyahoga county has not yet decided how to categorize chiropractors for when we should get vaccinated, but I expect that they will address this in the coming weeks. At this moment, I am leaning towards getting vaccinated, but before I do, I will get an antibody test done to see if I have been previously exposed. (Labcorp is offering antibody tests that may be paid for by insurance or government programs. The cash price for the test is a little over $50)
Vaccination Update 1-23-21
Our current vaccines seem to be a little less effective for at least one of the new strains. However, in the worst-case scenario, researchers believe that the vaccines can be altered easily and quickly.
In California in early January, 10 people had severe allergic reactions to a lot of Moderna vaccines after thousands of doses had been administered. After an investigation, the state declared it safe to use and released the lot after initially withholding them.
There are reports of elderly people dying after being vaccinated. A Florida doctor passed early this month, two weeks after getting vaccinated. Indiana had 3 patients pass away. Rumors have swirled after Hank Aaron passed away. Most dramatically, Norway had 33 elderly patients pass after being vaccinated. While some are saying that the vaccine had nothing to do with these deaths, that they were old and chronically ill and would have died otherwise, others are saying that while most of these people were at the end of their lives, one of the side effects from the vaccine could have contributed to a frail person’s death. By last Thursday, over 11 million people had received at least one dose of the vaccine in the US.
Personally, I’ve decided to get the vaccine. I took my own advice and received an antibody test (which was negative). I am waiting on the next Cuyahoga Board of Health vaccination clinic for healthcare workers. Most of my patients that have had a vaccination have only had mild symptoms (sore arm, headaches, fatigue) that lasted at most a few days for arm soreness.
There will be three more vaccines that will be requesting emergency authorization in the next few months. Johnson and Johnson has a single-dose vaccine that they will be asking for authorization by early next month. This and AstraZeneca’s vaccines are single-dose vaccines that use non-replicating viral material embedded with the Covid-19 spike protein to initiate an immune response. AstraZeneca’s vaccine has already been approved in Europe and should be requesting approval by the end of February. My understanding is that if approved, small amounts of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine will become available in late February, with AstraZeneca’s following in March. Novavax will follow with another two-dose vaccine, requesting approval late next month or early March.
Immunization Safety Update for January 30
As of Thursday (Jan 28), more than 22 million Americans have been vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus. Of those, 2 million people reported side effects to the CDC’s V-safe After Vaccination Health Checker App. Within these 2 million reports, more than 70% had pain (at the site of injection), 33% had fatigue, 30% had headaches, 23% had muscle pain and about 11% had chills, fever, swelling or joint pain. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) has reported more than 1,000 cases that had serious side effects that required hospitalization and 196 deaths after COVID-19 vaccination. The majority of these deaths were from people in nursing and assisted care facilities. Ninety percent of the serious allergic reactions presented in the first 30 minutes after being administered the vaccine.
Two reports of younger people that have died following vaccination have been in the news. One is a 56-year old medical doctor that died two weeks after vaccinations. The other is 60-year old X-ray technologist who had an allergic reaction and needed to be hospitalized after receiving the second Pfiser vaccination. He passed away a few days later.
The protocol for vaccinations is to have patients wait 15 minutes after administration to see if there are any adverse reactions. Epi-pens are on site in case a patient has a severe allergic reaction. If you have a history of major allergies and are concerned with having an adverse reaction, you may want to wait for an additional 15 minutes outside of the vaccination clinic to make sure that you are OK.
Mild symptoms are common, but if your breathing or swallowing is affected, or if you develop a strange rash, don’t hesitate to get checked out.
Here is a printable version of this article with references.