Vaccine Relief for Long-Haulers?
Did you know up to 30% of patients who have contracted COVID are at risk for long COVID? If you suffer from long-haul COVID symptoms, you may have an additional reason to get vaccinated. There are several surveys in from the UK and the USA that report 10-40% of patients felt their symptoms of long-COVID improved or resolved after their second dose of a COVID vaccination. These surveys were conducted by Survivor Corps, a group that supports COVID survivors, and a small British medical journal. The Survivor Corps survey involved about 150,000 patients. Both surveys had patients self-report their symptoms.
I do have in my practice one patient who reported that her long haul symptoms were ameliorated after vaccination. This is only 1 patient of course.
COVID Vaccine Safety
Many patients have asked me to discuss my recommendations about getting a COVID vaccination and want to discuss its safety data with me. I can say that overall the COVID vaccines have very strong safety data. Before their release in December 2020, the mRNA vaccines (from Pfizer and Moderna) underwent safety trials involving over 70,000 participants and were found to be very safe and effective. This is not to say they are without side effects, but side effects were mild and lasted under 3 days on average. 1 in 10 people do experience more severe influenza-like symptoms, but these are also not long lasting and should resolve within 3 days. To date there have been about 272 million doses of these vaccines and there has been continuous monitoring through the VAERs system.
Skepticism and Rumors
There are some who are concerned that this vaccine was available suspiciously fast. This was possible so quickly due to pre-existing science about mRNA vaccines which have been in development for decades. They just had to plug in the genetic sequence for the portion of COVID-19 virus they needed to target.
There have been unsubstantiated rumors and fears that the COVID vaccine can cause infertility. These claims are completely unfounded. This rumor was based on 1 person on social media confusing the name of one of the ingredients in the vaccine for the name of a hormone. They are not the same, there is no hormone in the vaccine, and the spelling isn’t even that close. But now, women are hesitating to get vaccinated because that 1 inaccurate infographic spread like wildfire.
It is true that women have experienced an irregular cycle after vaccination, but this can be due to the body’s immune system responding appropriately. It is not uncommon to have an irregular period after illness for example; a cold or even a stressful month can throw some women’s cycles off temporarily and not cause a long-term issue. Even during the initial trials in 2020 there were several women who got pregnant and went on to have normal, healthy deliveries.
Safe During Pregnancy?
There is also preliminary safety data based on the Pfizer vaccine which surveyed 35,000 pregnant women who had the vaccine and found no difference in pregnancy outcomes between the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. The study said more research was needed, but it is a reassuring sign that not only are the COVID vaccines safe for the general population but likely are safe for pregnant women.
I am here to answer your questions about COVID, the vaccine, and any other health concerns you have. But hopefully this information is helpful.