Category Archives: Autoimmune General

COVID-19 Vaccine Prep

COVID-19 Vaccine Prep

We are well into the second month of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. We’ve been getting several questions in our clinic in the last few weeks, mostly about vaccine side effects and how to prepare yourself for getting the vaccine. Especially for those with autoimmune diseases. We will try to outline what we know so far into this post.

COVID-19 Vaccine and Autoimmune Diseases

Currently, those with autoimmune diseases are considered one of the at-risk populations for complications from COVID-19. They are also one of the groups more likely to have side effects from the vaccine. Anything that stimulates the immune system can stimulate autoimmune diseases.

Currently there are studies on the safety of mRNA vaccines in those with autoimmune diseases. What we have been seeing though in our clinic is that those that have inflammatory arthritis from autoimmune diseases are more likely to have a worsening of their symptoms.

In the Pfizer vaccine clinical trial, 11% of vaccinated people had symptoms of new or worsening joint pain after the first shot. While 22% were more likely after the 2nd shot. 21% of people vaccinated were more likely to have new or worsening muscle pain (not at the sight of the shot) after the first shot. And 37% were more likely after the 2nd shot.

In the Moderna Clinical trial, 16% of vaccinated people had symptoms of new or worsening joint pain after the first shot. While 45% were more likely after the 2nd shot. 23% of people vaccinated were more likely to have new or worsening muscle pain (not at the sight of the shot) after the first shot. And 61% were more likely after the 2nd shot.

Systemic worsening in symptoms after the vaccine was more likely to happen in those < 65 years of age in both trials.

Vaccine Side Effects

The most commonly reported side effects for both vaccines include:

  • Pain, redness and swelling at the site of injection
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Fever

None of the vaccines being given in the US have the following ingredients (so no need to worry about the following):

  • Eggs
  • Preservatives
  • Latex

Side effects for most people happen within 7 days of getting the vaccine. The second dose for both vaccine tends to produce much stronger symptoms than the first.

Who Should Wait?

In assessing any medication, analyzing the risk/benefit ratio is always important. As of now, since we are in a global pandemic, the benefit of getting vaccinated will outweigh most risks. But some special precautions should be taken into consideration.

First – anyone who has had severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to any ingredient in the mRNA vaccine, should not get that type of vaccine. Additionally, those who have had severe allergic reactions to the first dose should not get a second dose. If you have had severe allergic reactions to previous vaccines, you should check in with your doctor about whether the vaccines are safe for you.

Pregnant women are another area of uncertainty. As of now, we have no safety data for pregnant women receiving this type of vaccine. It is the choice of the pregnant women for whether or not she wants the vaccine or not.

Children are another category that has a lot of uncertainty. We do not have enough data at this time to know if the vaccine is safe or effective in children. At this time though, children are low on the list for vaccinations given their low risk of complications and that children are likely to spread the virus less readily.

How to Prepare for Your Vaccine

If you are in line to get the vaccine, but are concerned about some side effects, here are some ways to help prepare your body.

  1. Take some time off post-vaccination

Most people get the worst side effects within 7 days of the vaccination. Plan to take some time off of work after you get vaccinated to rest in case you have symptoms. The second shot is almost always harder on the body – so make sure you take extra time depending on how you reacted to the first shot.

2. Get lots of sleep

You’ll want to get lots of sleep before and after you get the vaccine so your body has time to heal. Plan for 8-9 hours of sleep every day the week before and after you get the vaccine. Try to minimize stress and over-stimulation from electronics. (To the best of your ability!)

3. Help buffer your inflammation

Certain herbs and vitamins can help reduce excess inflammation from the vaccine without reducing effectiveness. Here are a few:

– Vitamin C: 1000mg twice a day x 2 weeks
– Fish Oil: 3,000mg fish oil twice a day x 2 weeks
– Probiotics: 50 billion organisms per day x 2 weeks
– Curcumin: 3g twice a day x 2 weeks

4. Day Of Treatment

The day you get the vaccine, make sure you eat a health breakfast. To help minimize localized swelling and redness, you can apply a cold wash cloth the area of the injection. There is no specific data that says that pain relieving medications like aspirin and tylenol reduce the efficacy of the vaccine, but keep these medications to a minimum if possible.

If you have specific questions about how the COVID-19 vaccine may affect you and how to help your body through the vaccination process. Contact your doctor, or meet with one of our physicians. You can contact our office to schedule a free 15 min consult.

Looking for more information on autoimmune diseases? Get our FREE ebook The 5 Foundations of Autoimmune Diseases, register for one of our FREE online webinars, or check out our blog for additional articles.

Do I Have an Autoimmune Disease?

Do I Have an Autoimmune Disease?

One of the biggest questions we get asked in our clinic is whether or not someone has an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are not easy things to diagnose. But if you know you have a lot of inflammation, it’s worth getting a thorough work up for an autoimmune disease. Here we will walk through theContinue Reading

Understanding Antibodies: IgA

Understanding Antibodies: IgA

This is part 3 of 4 of our Understanding Antibodies segment. See our previous blog posts on IgM and IgG antibodies if you are just catching up before we dive into IgA antibodies! Immune System Scouts Unlike IgM and IgG antibodies, IgA antibodies are the antibodies that reside primarily in mucous membranes and secretions.  ThisContinue Reading

Adaptogens for Stress

Adaptogens for Stress

With these stressful times, it is important to have a set of tools to help manage the stress that many are experiencing right now.  Common tools include time outside, movement, conscious breathing, and meditation to name a few. Stress can be detrimental, not only to your current health, but to your autoimmune disease if leftContinue Reading

Understanding Antibodies: IgM

Understanding Antibodies: IgM

With COVID-19 being the main point of conversation these days, and the hope for a vaccine in the future, there has been a lot of talk about antibodies. Antibodies are also a huge part of autoimmune diseases. So we thought that in the next month, we would work on breaking down the different antibodies andContinue Reading

COVID-19 and Autoimmune Diseases

COVID-19 and Autoimmune Diseases

One of the main questions I have received since the COVID-19 pandemic started is “am I more susceptible to complications from COVID-19 if I have an autoimmune disease.” Initially I had a hard time answering this question because we didn’t have answers. New viruses are tricky. And initially there was not a lot of evidenceContinue Reading

Testosterone and Autoimmune Diseases

Testosterone and Autoimmune Diseases

This is part 4 of our 4-part series in how hormones affect autoimmune diseases. Testosterone is an important hormone in the male and female body. It is similar to the female counterpart, progesterone. This hormone is made in the testicles and the adrenal gland. It has a lot of effects in the human body thatContinue Reading