The Virus, the Vaccine, and You

My, my what a change a new Administration can bring!  While rocky at first, we are gaining speed in an effective vaccine rollout. Amidst troubling mutated variants emerging, the race is on to get ahead of the spread of these new variants.  This means if you are able, get your vaccine as soon as it’s your turn. (Please read further to understand how to discover your best vaccine journey.)  According to top scientists, when we reach about 75% of the population being vaccinated, we should be “ahead” of the virus, and able to return to much of normal life. Good news: we are already beginning to see cases and hospitalizations drop due to vaccine induced immunity and post-Covid immunity.  There are signs that the Coronavirus will be endemic in our population and we will learn to live with it, much like we have learned to live with the flu and other viruses.  That being said, mask wearing and extra hygiene measures may be needed to some extent for a very long time.  Check out this review of effective masks that fit well and are therefore more enjoyable (?!) to wear.

LA County has been one of the top hot spots for Covid-19 and the illness has been amongst my patients as well.  So far, I have cared for about 40 people with positive Covid illness.  Most of them were already on my Pre-Covid Functional Medicine Protocol or they got on it immediately.  It has been very mild in nearly everyone, and only moderate in a handful of folks.  No one went to the hospital.  Everyone has been able to heal at home, for which I am grateful!  I still embrace the idea that going forward, looking after one’s health is the best advantage in beating the Coronavirus.  On a happy note, it is one of our own hospitals in LA County that is exemplary for effective vaccine administration to underserved communities.  Dr. Jerry Abraham of the Kedren Health Clinic in South LA is doing a fantastic job of it and his program should be used as a template across our nation.  

Should you get the vaccine, and if so, how?  If you are healthy and free of a history of strong allergic reactions and do not have auto immune illness, then YES you should get the vaccine as soon as it is your turn.  Of the two mRNA vaccines we currently have available, the Moderna vaccine has far fewer severe reactions/deaths than the Pfizer.  Moderna has also proved that its vaccine reduces asymptomatic transmission by 67%!  So if you have the chance to choose, I would go with Moderna.  The week before receiving your vaccine and week before the booster, stay on the Pre-Covid Functional Medicine Protocol, eat an anti-inflammatory diet rich in vegetables, clean meats and vegetable fats. Avoid alcohol, fried foods, and histamine forming foods such as wine, cheese, tomaotes/sauce, chocolate, coffee and tropical fruits.  Black tea is fine and quite probably helpful.  Find out when and sign up when it’s your turn at My Turn.  I like this website because they list which vaccine is being administered at which site.  This California State Covid-19 page is very useful. Or you can visit the LA County Covid-19 page.

If you experience a severe adverse reaction to any vaccine, report it at the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

The CDC’s guidance is to wait 90 days to receive the vaccine if you have had Covid. However, top immunologist Dr. Aristo Vojdani explains that the Coronavirus is the “queen” of turning on auto immune processes, and that the mRNA vaccines may quite probably turn on auto immune as well.  He then spoke about Memory T-Cells and how in most cases, if you have had Covid illness, your immunity will last for life.  This type of immunity would make future Coronavirus infections milder, not impossible.  He also stated that he was hospitalized with Covid, and he will not receive a vaccine since his autoimmunity flared after the illness.  For those suffering from Long Covid, also called "Long-Haulers" wherein debilitating symptoms persist for months, auto-immunity is frequently involved.

New findings show that the antibodies against Coronavirus last about 6-8 months instead of the earlier 3-4 month period, but fail to mention the Memory T-Cells. Since I have allergies and auto immune, I am looking forward to receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which also uses an adenovirus vector like the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, which has been stalled for various reasons, i.e. the fact that it is not effective against the South African variant.  I know this may surprise you since I have never taken the flu vaccine.  But in the face of a deadly infectious disease, I shall.  Receiving the vaccine is far safer than Covid-19 illness.  Early data on J&J say that it is 66% effective.  This aggregate number reflects an average of 57% effectiveness against the troubling South African variant (Astra-Zeneca was below 50% effective), and 72% effectiveness against the predominant US strain and 66% effective against the Brazilian variant.  Furthermore, the vaccine requires only a single injection, and becomes stronger with time.  At 28 days post vaccination, incidence of severe illness or hospitalization was reduced by 85%, and at 49 days, by 100%, including in South Africa.  Studies were intentionally done in countries with troubling variants, so understand that this efficacy is very good.  The mRNA vaccines were studied before these variants emerged.  J&J reports almost zero adverse reactions to its vaccine.  I interpret this as a gentler increase in immunity over time which should mean less auto-immunity provocation.  J&J has applied for their Emergency Use Authorization and hopefully will be available beginning in early March…since this is only a single shot, without special refrigeration requirements, I believe it will go furthest in global protection.  Furthermore, J&J has pledged to distribute the vaccine in a non-profit program.

A word of warning: if you or your loved ones have gone through Covid illness, I suspect that the recovery period is longer than people are aware.  There are numerous reports of young healthy people having “freak” causes of death such as stroke, heart attack or aneurism.  These are all cardiovascular events and I suspect they are post-Covid in their origins along with other predisposing factors.  Therefore, I recommend no aerobic or intensely strenuous exercise for three months post-Covid.  However, it would facilitate healing to go for a stroll and do some stretching every day during this period, as well as continue to take NAC and Omega 3 fish oils (which I presume you take in your regular self care regimen).  After that, gradually train back to your prior fitness level.

Ventilation and Covid: Harvard Professor Joseph Allen explains the importance of ventilation and filtration in reducing the spread of Covid.  If you can, crack a window (two with cross flow is better), get a basic HEPA filter air purifier (nothing fancy is needed) and use it.  Pay attention to getting the right size machine to cover the square footage of your room. More data is emerging about the safety of flying during the pandemic.  Airplane air has good circulation and filtration. The risky bit is while the aircraft is at the gate, before the ventilation system is turned on.  If you are going to fly, consider properly wearing two masks and eye protection while boarding and until take off.  Once the plane’s ventilation is on, it is likely safe to ditch the eye protection.  You will need to put it back on once you land.  

In a conversation with my 23-year-old daughter, she declared that she actually likes wearing masks, because then she doesn’t have to worry about makeup!  I have to admit, in the winter it feels almost cozy to me.  The link in the first paragraph offers masks that are good for exercise, as well as one to wear in the rain!  The vaccines will reduce the spread of the virus and the severity of the illness, but the virus will mutate and be with us well into the future.  We need to adjust our expectations on what it will take to thrive while caring for one another.

Copyright © 2021 Dr. Jeanette Ryan, DC, IFMCP, All rights reserved.
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