Take The Vaccine!
By Dr. Gary Nichols
This letter is not intended for people who have already decided to get the COVID vaccine, nor for anti-vaxxers. Your minds are made up. This is for folks who are considering vaccination, but are uneasy or undecided.
I’ve heard a few concerns from my patients that I wanted to address:
1. It was developed too fast and may be unsafe. Both vaccines given Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. FDA (Pfizer & Moderna) went through all the same studies as any vaccine: Phase 1,2 & 3 trials. The trials had 30,000 and 44,000 patients. Finding thousands of volunteers for the study was not a problem (because we’re in a pandemic). Researchers included multiple ages and all races. Both vaccines are mRNA vaccines. They are not live vaccines. The vaccines cannot give you coronavirus! These mRNA vaccines can be produced quicker than traditional vaccines. Also, production was started during the Phase 3 trials because Operation Warp Speed promised to reimburse companies for their product (regardless of the final product’s effectiveness). This removed the financial risk for the manufacturer. And because there has been a lot of COVID disease, data from the trials came back very quickly. In the Phase 3 trials, both the patients and the investigators were blinded as to whether the patient received a real vaccine or a placebo. Then researchers waited a few months to see who became sick, who tested positive, who was hospitalized, who developed side effects and who died. The Phase 3 trials started nearly 6 months ago. The trials were an example of good, unbiased science. To be honest, the companies have been very strict because it is in their best interest to have a safe and effective vaccine. Over 14 million doses have been given in the US as of the writing of this article. We’ve seen less than 20 episodes of anaphylaxis (throat/tongue swelling/shortness of breath) so far. And all were successfully treated. Most experts breathe a sigh of relief when 3 million doses have been given without serious outcomes. The vaccines are safe.
2. It can cause female infertility. Untrue. So a retired European physician claiming to work for Pfizer sited concern of the similarity of the coronavirus spike protein (the target for natural antibodies from infection or induced by vaccination) to another protein that assists with the implantation of the placenta to a fetus. He was concerned about an increased risk of miscarriage when exposed to these antibodies. Turns out, the two proteins are not very similar. And if they were, we should have noticed an increase in miscarriages in the millions of young women who have been infected with coronavirus. We have not. My teenage daughter will get the vaccine whenever her tier is eligible.
3. The vaccine was developed using fetal tissue. False. The Christian Medical and Dental Association commended Pfizer and Moderna because they do not contain fetal cells and do not rely on fetal cells for production.
4. These vaccines will change my DNA. Not true. Both these vaccines are mRNA vaccines. High school students studying biology can explain that mRNA is a message taken up by ribosomes that tells them what protein to make (in this case, the spike protein of the coronavirus). Neither DNA nor the nucleus of your cell is involved whatsoever.
5. The vaccine contains foreign substances or microchips to make me a 5G antenna. I don’t think this one even deserves an explanation. Please think critically about what you read on social media.
6. I’ve already had COVID, so I don’t need the vaccine. Probably not true. Growing evidence suggest you get better long term immunity from the vaccine than from natural infection.
7. I don’t want any of the side effects. The truth is that the headache, fatigue, body aches, and fevers that some vaccine recipients experience are not truly side effects. They’re effects. When you’re immune system responds and starts making antibodies to the spike protein, it release interferons (chemicals that can cause those effects). This means it’s working. And the interferon storm some patients experience with natural infection is far worse.
I must confess: I did not believe we would be able to develop a safe and effective vaccine within a year of discovering this virus. I have been proven wrong. The right people have been in the right places at the right time to make this happen. I call it a miracle. I’m humbled that my wife and I are among those first 7 million recipients of this vaccine that is over 94% effective at preventing COVID. I write today to encourage you to receive this vaccine whenever it becomes available to you. I am definitely not a political person. But it is clear to me that vaccinating as many of us as possible will not only protect lives and prevent disability from long COVID, it will help our lives get back to some sense of normalcy. And in a safer and less painful way than natural infection. Getting the vaccine is one of the many ways you can “love your neighbor” during this historic pandemic that has infected 94 million worldwide and killed 1 in 1000 Americans as of this writing.
A concerned family physician,
Gary Nichols, MD