Pour yourself some tea, and settle in. This is a long one…and much overdo.
I have been asked by family members, patients, colleagues, and friends several times about my perspective regarding the Covid vaccine. As a practitioner who routinely sees patients who are vaccine injured, I am hesitant to blindly recommend that everyone get the SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine, especially to my immunocompromised population of patients. I admittedly have had to sit back in deep inquiry, read copious articles, and try to dig deep to come to a place where my answer serves all of those around me, and also, satisfies my professional, political, and personal views. At the same time, I have to ask what is in the best interest of the patient? Just as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating any condition, the same answer holds true for the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.
Typically, my answer might be a resounding “no!” However, this is a very unusual situation we are in, and we are all in it, which changes everything. My answer is a departure from my normal perspective, as we do need better solutions in what has become an imperfect scenario. Vaccines are a polarizing topic in our society, even while we are full swing in a pandemic, and yet 50% of adults are considering not getting the vaccine. There is mistrust of vaccine manufacturing companies, mistrust in the data on efficacy and side effects, and in general, mistrust in the handling of the pandemic. There are so many sentences in the scientific literature that end in “we just don’t know.”
Before I launch into this discussion, I want to reiterate an important principle of looking at this virus. When someone gets infected with Covid, their immune system mounts a response. The virus is not what makes you sick; it is the host’s response to the organism that causes symptoms. Sometimes there is zero response to an infection— that is, someone doesn’t get sick because their immune system is strong and can handle the response. They do not get overwhelmed with the infection. Other people have died from a reaction to the infection, literally from widespread inflammation. Covid affects the entire body, not just the lungs, because this is an immune system response, not a viral response. Nonreactors to the virus may have had Covid as a young child (as it is a common infection in early childhood), may have a strong immune system, or both.
In the interest of serving others, the communities around us that are suffering, and the countries around us that are facing growing challenges, it has forced me to look at this question through a different lens. The United States has one of the highest concentrations of deaths with nearly twice as many reported fatalities as any other country. This issue is complex and here are a few variables that make it so:
- This virus is not going away. Even if a vaccine is close to as effective as manufacturers say it is, there will be the lingering transmission of this virus for many years to come.
- Viruses mutate. This is the natural order of all organisms. Will the vaccine cover future mutations?
- This virus has a morbidity and mortality rate, which is staying high. At the time of this article, it remains around 1.5%-1.75% mortality (Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center), or 121 deaths per 100,000 cases. If nothing changes, the first full, complete cycle of this pandemic will end with 500,000-2,500,000 dead in the USA. No math shows this to not be the case at this point, unless something changes.
- The medical system is unable to attend fully to emergencies, acute and chronic illnesses, and diagnoses unrelated to SARS-CoV-2. The effect on the health care system is leading to failures across the health care spectrum. At the same time, the medical system has failed to offer any effective treatments against this virus, something natural medicine can do handily.
- We have lost our window for prevention and for adopting the public health measures, like other countries who have successfully limited the spread of the virus (e.g. New Zealand). Unfortunately, as a country, we did not adopt these measures that were needed in a timely, urgent, and unified manner.
- As a Naturopathic Doctor, my initial and strong reflex was to support immune health and natural immune response to viral infection and to appeal to patients with co-morbidities, who are at greater risk if they get the virus, that this was the time to address their health in earnest, using natural medicine therapies. The FDA asked many providers in the integrative sector to stop making claims that natural medicine would be helpful/effective for the prevention and treatment of SARS-CoV-2. Months later conventional institutions began discussing natural solutions and concepts, but the delay caused the virus to spread even further. We chose the vaccine as a path forward using trials of 30,000 to 40,000 patients and billions of dollars. Little to no money was allocated to vitamin C, zinc, homeopathic and botanical therapies, or low dose immunotherapy research. These have great safety profiles, great cost-effectiveness, and availability. In fact, research exists already as to the efficacy with viral infections, yet we focused on vaccines. (One could write an entire book on this topic alone).
- And here we are with a perceived option to vaccinate. It seems as if we do have a choice in whether to get vaccinated or not. However, as soon as the vaccine becomes readily available that might change. Vaccine mandates may arise for any future travel, going to large public venues, children attending school, and more.
- Finally and most important, Americans are less healthy, less vital, less physically resourced, and weaker from an immune standpoint than ever before. I know this is one of the reasons we are facing such challenges with this pandemic. We as a species have become weaker, not stronger. Glyphosate, EMFs, antibiotics, processed foods, drugs, alcohol, sugar, and stress are the tip of the iceberg of contributing factors to our becoming weaker than our previous generations. If we focus on our resilience and vitality as endpoints for health rather than the absence of disease, we would be faring far better today with Covid in our communities.
What decision should you make?
I think the decision has been made for us, unfortunately, by leaders and governmental agencies, and when there are enough doses of vaccines to go around, your perceived “choice” may not be in your hands. If we do not achieve sufficient immunity to SARS-CoV-2 with voluntary vaccinations, then we will be required to get the vaccine depending on where we work, live, and what we choose to do (e.g. travel, go to school, work in certain positions). One way or the other, we need herd immunity, and vaccines are the main path to getting there.
Putting it all together
- Continue to wear your mask. They work. President Biden has made a call to wear masks for 100 more days. We can do this. That is fewer days than we have been wearing them already.
- Continue to socially distance and refrain from large gatherings.
- If you are immunocompromised (e.g., have cancer, a long-term chronic infection, an auto-immune condition, or another chronic ailment), I would suggest waiting a month to observe how the side effects are reported in the scientific literature. Side effects have not been studied long enough in the short amount of time that the vaccines have been evaluated. The vaccines have been tested largely for their efficacy against fighting the virus but not for long term side effects. These will not be evident for some time to come.
- At a minimum: take 2000 mg Vitamin C daily before you get the vaccine and after for several weeks. Continue your Vitamin D daily. As previously recommended: sleep, eat more veggies and less processed food, hydrate (at least half your body weight in ounces), and monitor your sugar and alcohol intake.
- According to the vaccine makers, there are a variety of immune reactions and side effects to be expected in 3%-50% of those who receive the vaccine. Integrative practitioners can help the immune system function in healthy and appropriate ways, leading to the desired response to the vaccine, perhaps even extending the benefit of the vaccine. Sadly, I would prefer to help you prevent this virus or treat it if you became ill with SARS-CoV-2, but I am now am asking you to contact me for support and help if you experience side effects from getting the vaccination.
There are a few things for certain:
- There is a lot about this pandemic and virus that we currently do not know.
- We all have pandemic fatigue.
- Our communities are crumbling around us.
- We are worried about our children and careers.
- We want to get back to our normal flow of life.
It has required tremendous patience on everyone’s part, and hopefully, we will emerge from this pandemic with better insights into prevention, health promotion, and choosing key leaders for their skill in being able to lead us in healthy sustainable future directions that benefit us all.