The COVID-19 vaccine: Is it safe to take?

 In Blog

People are asking this question a lot right now.

Today I want to share my thoughts on how you can investigate this important question as well as the challenge of finding reliable information on the internet. 

I am a physician at the University of Iowa, where I conduct clinical trials on patients. I also review between 200 and 400 research studies each week about dietary and behavior interventions to treat autoimmune and other chronic diseases. I scan the titles, read the abstracts that interest me, and select a few papers for a comprehensive read.

I summarize the most interesting ones and send them by email to my followers, with links to the PubMed abstracts. Reviewing research keeps me current and allows me to keep you informed about relevant discoveries. 

Critical thinking about science and medical claims 

The internet is not regulated. It has some amazing resources such as PubMed, with links to peer-reviewed papers describing important studies. It is also filled with disinformation and spreads lies about scientists, politicians, and sometimes the public. It’s essential that you know the source of the information you’re looking at. Artificial intelligence creates algorithms that present more sensational material to keep you clicking and staying on social media. Those algorithms have radicalized terrorists across the globe and now the United States to create armed attacks on civilians and governments.

Those sensational materials are creating distrust of institutions, experts, and science. I urge you to distrust scientific information on the internet that does not include a link to PubMed articles as source documents. 

COVID-19

Those with autoimmune issues are wondering if the vaccine is safe. Thus far, I have not seen guidance from the FDA for autoimmune patients, though it may exist. 

Here is the link to the guidance developed by the physicians and scientists for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. It has been endorsed by the scientists at America’s Committee on the Treatment and Research in MS. Your neurologist is likely reviewing this guidance as they consider what to recommend their patients. I suggest you review it too.

I have discussed the COVID-19 vaccine with my functional medicine–trained neurology colleagues and with my neurologist.

All are recommending that their patients, including me, get the vaccine. 

Because I have contact with research participants, I am considered a front-line worker.

The university will likely require all staff who have contact with patients or research participants to get vaccinated if they wish to continue seeing patients. 

Unless I agree to end my research career, I will likely need to take the vaccine.

All of the scientific and clinical experts that I see, who are reviewing peer-reviewed research, consistently advise their patients to take the vaccine. The functional medicine folks are also advising that patients use the same dietary, lifestyle, and targeted supplement regimen that we give to people who are exposed to COVID, test positive for COVID, or are in the initial, mild symptoms of COVID, to keep the immune symptom properly modulated both before and after vaccination.

I urge you to review your personal medical history and experience with vaccines with your medical team to determine the best course of action. I know that some in my community are pro-vaccines and some have experienced adverse reactions to vaccines and will not accept any more vaccinations.

Remember the internet is filled with both amazing, lifesaving information and disinformation that is used to spread conspiracy theories and lies that attack good people. Be very cautious about the information on the internet and who you trust.

Whatever you decide to do about vaccination, it remains crucial to keep up your self-care routine. Vitamin D, fermented vegetables, plenty of sleep, fresh air, and moderate exercise have been recommended by the Institute for Functional Medicine to reduce the risk of severe symptoms due to COVID.

We also recommend the same intervention for after you are vaccinated.

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