​By, Alix Bjorklund Doctor of Oriental Medicine, December 2020


You will make your own decision to get the vaccine or not to get the vaccine. It is important to make an informed decision and to read the science.  Also, investigate your sources of information. I have done the research and looked at many different articles and sources; here is some of that information.  I hope that you find this helpful and informative.

I will be getting the vaccine as soon as it is available to me, and I am recommending that you get the vaccine. 

The combination of getting vaccinated and following the CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19.  The vaccine provides our best chance at establishing 
“herd immunity”.  It is estimated that approximately 80-90% of Americans over 17 years of age, will need to be vaccinated to establish herd-immunity. The CDC however, offers no herd immunity estimate, saying on its website that “experts do not know”.

According to the CDC, so far, none of the vaccine trials have reported any serious safety concerns. Trials for the first two vaccines — from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — have had fully independent safety monitoring boards, and safety data are continuously reviewed by the FDA and expert panels. Moderna and Pfizer are currently the two approved vaccines available. They both went through rigorous testing, and no steps were skipped. Both will continue to be monitored by the FDA and CDC.

Both manufacturers report that their vaccines show approximately 95% efficacy at preventing both mild and severe symptoms of COVID-19. 

According to the CDC, the body of evidence for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was primarily informed by one large, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase II/III clinical trial that enrolled more than 43,000 participants. 

Interim findings from the trial, using data from participants with a median 2 month follow-up indicate that the vaccine was 95.0% effective in preventing symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in persons without evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. 
For more information go to the CDC December 13, 2020, online report posted as an “MMWR Early Release”.

The COVID-19 vaccines created by Pfizer and Moderna do not have any virus or other infectious material in them. They are designed to cause your body to make copies of a harmless piece of the coronavirus, so you will not, and cannot, get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

 These vaccines are a new type of vaccine in that they contain an mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) to protect against infectious diseases. To trigger an immune response, many vaccines put a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies. Not mRNA vaccines. Instead, they teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades.  This will be the first time it is being widely distributed in a vaccine.

“The single biggest advantage that the mRNA approach has is its flexibility,” explained Richard Webby, Ph.D., Director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center for Influenza at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. While traditional vaccines require a personalized, energy-intensive approach for each vaccine, mRNA vaccines have a streamlined process adaptable to any microbe, making it well suited to rapidly respond to emerging pandemics, Webb says. 
Men’sHealth December 9, 2020

There are, however, at this time, unknowns about the long-term effects of mRNA.  Tal Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Unit at Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital in Israel, acknowledges that there are unique and unknown risks to messenger RNA vaccines, including local and systemic inflammatory responses that could [potentially in rare occasions, unknown details at this time]  lead to autoimmune conditions. 

Michal Linial, a professor of biological chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, stated her cause for concern had less to do with the mRNA and more to do with the long-term efficacy of the vaccine.  In addition, she stated that several questions remain such as whether these vaccines will be able to mount a sufficiently protective immune response and how long that immunity would last.
The Jerusalem Post November 17, 2020

At this time the known common side effects can be a very sore arm and symptoms such as a sore throat, fatigue, and body aches. Remember this is a sign that the vaccine is working. This will probably last a day or two, and you will be protected from a virus that has killed more than 330,000 people in the US alone. If you have a medical history of complicated autoimmune disease, I suggest that you consult with your rheumatologist before getting this vaccine.

​Regarding questions of the mutations that we are now seeing with COVID-19, my research suggests that this will not at this time hinder the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine. Trevor Bedford, an infectious-disease expert at the Fred Hutch research center in Seattle, estimated that “it will take the virus a few years to mutate enough to significantly hinder a vaccine. “But again, he said, “this process will most likely take years rather than months.”  Experts however, are finding that the new strain known as D614G has spread much faster than the original Wuhan Variant.

There are other active ingredients in the vaccines including; lipids, fats, potassium chloride, sucrose (sugar), and acetic acid. Acetic acid can be found in vinegar and in many other foods, and can also be used as an electrolyte in IV fluids.  These help to maintain the pH or stability of the vaccine.

According to the CDC, at this time, anyone who has a severe allergy (e.g., anaphylaxis) to any of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine ingredients should not receive this vaccine.

There are of course unknowns about this vaccine.  The main question that remains unanswered is, how long will immunity (antibodies)  from COVID-19 last?  We will not know that answer for some time.  Although the vaccine will greatly lower (95% chance that it will)  your risk of getting sick and greatly reduce the severity of disease if you do get sick, we do not know if you can still transmit the virus to others.  

Also, keep in mind that results show 50% efficacy after 10 days of your first dose; and to achieve the 95% efficacy it requires both doses and it takes up to a week to achieve that.

It has become clear that “Superspreader events” played a large role in spreading COVID-19.  Avoiding these events is paramount to slowing the rate of transmission.

Given this information please understand that you must continue to wear a mask and continue to practice the art of social distancing even after you get the recommended two vaccine doses.  It is not only about you, it is about the people you love, the people you are exposed to at the store and at work. It is about making it safer for people with comorbidities, the elderly, for those people with diseases like cancer, and for people who live in wheelchairs. We have an obligation to help protect others from this virus.  There are many unknowns about this virus but one thing we know for sure is that it is highly contagious.

When you get this vaccine, you are helping to limit the spread of this very contagious virus.  You are also helping to take the pressure off of our front line workers, doctors, and nurses, and our healthcare system in general. This is paramount to our eventual  “return to normal”.  I will be getting the vaccine as soon as it is available to me, for many reasons including that I feel it is a part of my societal responsibilities.

The New Mexico Department of Health has created a “ COVID-19 Vaccine Registration” link.  Go to the New Mexico Department of Health Or to register. 

Other sites:
Johns Hopkins Medicine, based in Baltimore, Maryland
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Meanwhile, keep in mind that this is going to be a long winter and we all need to do our best to keep ourselves and our communities safe.  Wear your masks, wash your hands, follow all the COVID-19 safety guidelines.

With warm wishes for a Happy New Year,
Dr. Alix Bjorklund
 Dr. Alix Bjorklund

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