Hello! If you are reading this you are probably one of my clients and we’ve been talking about the vaccine during your treatment. I am posting this because a lot of my clients would like more information or still have questions that I know I cannot answer, so I have put together a list of resources from qualified experts, videos explaining how things work and people who work in the field that you can follow on social media for more information. I’ve put this together on the understanding that people take in information in different ways, and I am trying to find sources as wide ranging as possible.
First of all, here is a report of the effects of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. This features data from 2020, pre-vaccine and back when the earlier variants were dominant and Delta had not yet arrived.
HOW DOES THE VACCINE WORK
Here is a four minute video by the ABC explaining how viruses work and how the delta strain is different.
Here is an article explaining how mRNA vaccines work that gives lots of links to find further information
Here is a review article explaining how mRNA vaccines work, dating from 2018.
Here is a video featuring Brian and Stewie from the tv show The Family Guy explaining how vaccines, and the COVID-19 vaccine in particular work.
THE VACCINE IN THE REAL WORLD
How many people globally have been vaccinated for COVID-19? The New York Times has a great ongoing coverage, maps and additional data to look at, but as of the 6th of October 2021, 3.62 billion people, 47.2% of the entire world’s population have received a dose of the vaccine.
Here is a study that investigates how the vaccine is going in the real world
Here is another study investigating the effectiveness of the vaccine in real world conditions
Here is a weekly 15 minute TV series on the ABC about The Vaccine, which is very helpful as things change so fast,
Here is a Four Corners episode on how vaccinating Australia is going, and how the slow rollout has allowed doubt to creep in amongst the population.
COVID-19 VACCINE INJURY
What is defined as a vaccine injury (otherwise known as a vaccine adverse event)? Do you need to be incapacitated, or is a sore arm at the injection site considered to be a vaccine injury?
The World Health Organisation calls them “adverse events following immunisation” an adverse event following immunization is any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine. The WHO then goes on to say:
“There is no such thing as a “perfect” vaccine which protects everyone who receives it AND is entirely safe for everyone.
Effective vaccines (i.e. vaccines inducing protective immunity) may produce some undesirable side effects which are mostly mild and clear up quickly.”
Queensland Health via the Australian Immunisation Handbook continues: “Adverse Events Following Immunisation are any negative reaction that follows vaccination. It does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the vaccine… Mild events, such as fever, pain or redness at the site of injection, tiredness and aches and pains commonly occur after vaccination with some vaccines and should be anticipated.”
The Australian Government also releases a weekly safety report on all of the COVID-19 vaccines available in the country which includes the actual numbers of adverse events and deaths post vaccination, and whether this lines up with what is already known worldwide.
The Australian government have a scheme to compensate people who have been injured by the COVID-19 vaccines.
The American Centre for Disease Control have interesting information about vaccine adverse events.
An interesting study from the US investigating the incidence of anaphylaxis after the Pfizer vaccination, which explains the type of person more likely to experience those symptoms, how likely it is per number of vaccines administered and the most likely time limit that the reaction is likely to occur.
Another interesting study to come out of the US investigates adverse events following one dose of an mRNA vaccine in nursing home residents that have had COVID versus those who have not had COVID found that there was no statistical difference in adverse events between the two groups.
Another study investigates the characteristics and outcomes of the 1842 people who required a visit to the emergency department or hospitalisation within 10 days of their first of second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, out of a total of 153 726 total emergency department visits at the time. Out of those 1842 people, around 40% required hospitalisation and 43 of them were admitted to the ICU, the incidence increasing with age, and presumably therefore with previously existing health conditions.
“THEY MADE IT TOO QUICK” – THE HISTORY OF CORONAVIRUS VACCINES
No. A lot of the work was already done when SARS and MERS were prevalent, as they are also one of the now seven coronaviruses known to infect human beings. There is no known cure for any of the coronaviruses.
From a review article: “However, vaccine development involves several important steps such as antigen study, selection of effective antigen, antigen stability, screening study (animal model, route of vaccination, adjuvant selection), clinical trials on human, clinical trials data analysis, quality control, technology transfer, easy scale-up, universal approval, and high cost investment ($200–1000 Millions) which take at least 1.5–3 years (or more) to develop the vaccine [, , ]. In case of COVID-19 vaccine, the initial observations about full length genome phylogenetic analysis suggest that genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 is almost 80% similar to that of SARS-CoV [9,15]. Hence it is expected that, previously available related literature data/experience and existing knowledge about vaccine designing attempts against the coronavirus (SARS/MERS) disease may be helpful to design rapid vaccine against COVID-19″
Here is a cool article by the ABC on how the vaccine got developed so quickly.
Then there is the history of mRNA vaccines, which have been investigated since the 1970s
“I TRUST MY IMMUNE SYSTEM”
Here is an article explaining the difference between how the body’s innate immune system versus vaccination works
An Australian study published earlier in 2021 found that people infected with earlier variants of COVID-19 and still had antibodies were not very effective against new variants, like Delta.
Here is a great article from November 2020 explaining how our immune systems work, how COVID-19 suppresses the immune system, allowing it to evade detection and cause more inflammation.
It has been found in Australia that more than 70% of Australians who died from earlier COVID-19 variants had pre-existing chronic health conditions, most commonly dementia (between 400 000 and 459 000 Australians), diabetes (1.2 million Australians, or 4.9% of the total population), hypertension (1 in 4 Australian men and 1 in 5 Australian women) and chronic cardiac conditions (1.2 million Australians),
Here is a Australian government website explaining which groups are going to be more at risk of getting and being badly affected by COVID. 73% of COVID-19 deaths have been from those living in aged care. As of 2020, there were 335 899 Australians living in aged care.
A further look at the data in Australia (bear in mind that the author is a co-founder of a travel company in Melbourne)
The Australian government page on common COVID-19 myths.
The Australian Government page on common COVID-19 vaccine myths.
Johns Hopkins research and training hospitals in the USA on common COVID-19 vaccine myths
The Mayo clinic, another world-renowned research and training hospital in the US on common COVID-19 vaccine myths
An article on CNN that explains more about common covid-19 vaccine myths
ON BREAKTHROUGH COVID INFECTIONS AFTER BEING VACCINATED
A fantastic short video from the ABC in Australia about how yes, breakthrough infections even after being fully vaccinated are expected, why the vaccines are still important even though there will be breakthrough infections and the purpose of vaccine boosters.
Sanjay Mishra PhD is a project coordinator and staff scientist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre who has particular interest in how covid affects people with cancer. He wrote a great article recently explaining what breakthrough infections are and why they are happening
A Harvard University explanation of what Long Covid is
A longer explanation of what Long COVID is and how debilitating it can be.
1 in 3 people who catch the virus will suffer from Long COVID afterwards.
Getting the vaccine after COVID-19 infection may help reduce Long COVID symptoms (research is still very early days).
The vaccine has been found to be safe in people who have Long COVID and has been found to definitely not make things worse.
The personal financial and wider economic consequences of Long COVID are an important concern, with people who need ongoing medical help going homeless and previously young, fit family breadwinners being unable to work.
THE VACCINE AND FERTILITY
Basically, pregnant people haven’t been included in vaccine trials due to ethical reasons (It is incredibly rare for research to be done on pregnant humans full stop.) But doctors and researchers are finding that the pregnant person and their unborn children are greatly at risk from the virus, so the current recommendations are for pregnant people to get vaccinated. This cohort study found that the vaccine was in general well tolerated. Please talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine.
Here is another article explaining what happens to 57 people who accidentally fell pregnant while participating in COVID-19 vaccine trials. Based on that (unfortunately, due to the above ethical concerns, comprehensive data in humans is going to be sparse and purely observational) it was found that the rate of accidental pregnancy in the vaccinated and non-vaccinated was the same, meaning that the vaccine does not affect the rate of falling pregnant. It also found that miscarriage rates was the same in both groups, meaning that the vaccine was non-detrimental to pregnant people.
This article also reports that further studies of pregnant people with COVID-19 are currently underway, and it is being found that they are far more likely to need intensive care, which makes it far more likely for Doctors to elect to deliver the babies early, which does not improve the health outcomes of anyone involved.
Here is a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald exploring myths vs facts of the effect of the COVID-19 vaccine on fertility.
Here is a study published in September 2021 that examined the correlation between spontaneous abortion and the COVID-19 vaccine by searching through data collected by the American Centre for Disease Control and 9 other health systems in the US. It found that the vaccine did not increase the chances of spontaneous abortion, but increased parental age did.
Further data collected from a self-reporting database found that the vaccine did not cause an increase in spontaneous abortions below 20 weeks gestation.
Here is an observational study of over 35 000 pregnant people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine that examined the outcomes of their pregnancy.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies (so a collation and review of the evidence found in 42 different studies, including 438 548 people who were pregnant) found that COVID-19 viral infection increased the risk of pre-eclampsia, pre-term birth and stillbirth, with the severity of infection increasing the severity of outcome
Here is a study from 2014 that investigates the impact of fevers in pregnancy and the health impacts on the offspring as a result. Fevers are a commonly reported side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. It found that parental fevers do have an increased risk of health concerns in infants, but the risks can be easily mitigated by antipyretic medications, such as paracetamol.
Here is an article from the Smithsonian investigating how frequent the incidence of side effects after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines actually are, with 3.7% of those who received Pfizer reporting fevers after the first dose and 15.8% of vaccine recipients reporting fevers after their second dose. Again, these can be easily managed with paracetamol.
A study examining the transfer of COVID-19 vaccine antibodies to infants from their birth parent found that not only was the parent’s immunity good against the virus, the antibodies had been passed on through the placenta and the breast milk to the baby.
Another study done on health workers in Israel who got vaccinated and were also breastfeeding at the time had their breast milk before and after vaccination examined. It was found to have good concentrations of antibodies after vaccination and none of the participants or their children experienced any long term side effects.
Here is a study from the Journal of Clinical Investigation that examines the presence of COVID-19 antibodies across the placental barrier in unborn babies of people who have been vaccinated, are currently infected with COVID-19 and the unvaccinated who are not infected with the virus.
THE VACCINE AND CHANGES IN MENSTRUATION
Research is just getting started with the US National Institute of Health, but preliminary data in the British Medical Journal suggests that while it is possible that post-vaccination the first menses may be different, it returns to normal in the next cycle. Changes in menstruation occur frequently in cases of increased stress, weight gain or changes in exercise and as such difference for one cycle is not usually a cause for concern.
Similarly, there seems to be a short-term change in sex hormone concentration and ovarian reserve in people with COVID-19
MALE IMPOTENCE AND INFERTILITY AFTER COVID-19 INFECTION
It has been found that covid affects the fertility and potency of men who have recovered from the virus.
A small pilot study released in July 2021 found that the virus was still present in penile tissue, but there was also widespread tissue damage to the area
A slightly larger research paper also released in July 2021 basically says the same thing
Here is an article from April 2021 explaining in greater detail the six times greater risk of erectile dysfunction in men who have had COVID.
HOW TO HELP YOUR FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES WHO ARE VACCINE HESITANT
Here is an article from the ABC on how to to talk to friends and family who are unsure about getting the vaccine.
Here is an American article by the Cleveland Clinic about how to talk to someone who is hesitant about getting the COVID vaccine
An article by Rotary on how to talk to someone who is vaccine hesitant.
SCIENTISTS, DOCTORS, EPIDEMIOLOGISTS AND VIROLOGISTS TO CHECK OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Very informative as they are likely to have have special areas of interest that may be important to you. Also useful as they address current talking points that may be in the news this week.
Unambiguous Science on Facebook and Instagram
Dr Izzy Smith on Facebook and Instragram who has interesting information on the vaccine and fertility
The Immunisation Nurse (in Queensland) on Instagram
Mamallennial on vaccinating kids on Instagram
Science Biker Chick, one of the scientists who worked on the University of Queensland vaccine on Instagram
The world renowned Mayo Clinic which specialises in research on Facebook and Instagram has great highlights and podcasts
Epiqueeniology in NSW on Facebook and Instagram
Doctor Kat, Epidemiologist on Instagram
Doctor Yas, who has a PhD in immunotherapy and immune regulation on Instagram
Doctor Jen Gunter, an OB/GYN who talks about covid-19, the vaccine and its impact on fertility on Facebook and Instagram
Science Whiz Liz is a scientist, professior and educator who got her PhD in Genetics and Immunology and works to make science easily understandable to everyone on Facebook and Instagram
Dr Risa Hoshino, MD is a board certified pediatrician in pubic health and a vaccine expert on Facebook and Instagram
Dr Sara Marzouk FRACGP, MBBS, PhD and BSc Hons (Immunology) is a Melbourne doctor and educator who is a wealth of information about the vaciine and covid and all things related over on Facebook
Dr Noc PhD (immunology) on Instagram
Nini Munoz PhD is a science communicator focusing on understanding data and statistics on Instagram
Charlotte is a PhD student in epidemiology who appears to be located in the UK on Instagram who gives weekly updates and goes through the latest talking points
Dr Stacy De-Lin M.D. is a board certified physician, a gynaecology and family planning specialist and a COVID science communicator on Instagram
Dr Jessica Stokes-Parish is a nurse and educator based in Melbourne who works to help health professionals navigate science and education, on Facebook and Instagram
ANTI-VACKSERS AND QUEUE ANONYMOUS
(Deliberately misspelled) I am putting this up because current affairs are not separate from health concerns at this time, as long as certain groups are trying to affect choices you make about your health and the health of your community. I want to make sure when you watch the news or scroll around online you understand who all the players are.
The Centre for Countering Digital Hate have done a 72 page report on who is making money from spreading misinformation about the pandemic
Here is a Four Corners episode about Q Anon
Here is an article from the Guardian explaining how information about the Freedom Rallies around the country have spread and the group that has been found to be behind it.
Here’s an opinion piece that talks about how strange it is to see wellness women and far right men together at the forefront of the anti-vaxx movement in Australia. Basically, the far right has been organising for years and this is the first time the wellness women have taken part in anything political, and fear is a strong motivator for both groups.
Who are the Proud Boys, the group that gets mentioned a lot as taking part in Freedom Rallies, particularly in Melbourne? The Southern Poverty Law Centre explains.
How far right white supremacist groups are recruiting in Australia through men’s fitness clubs, a trend that has been accelerated by the fallout of COVID-19.
Further information about how the Anti-Lockdown protests spread online from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute
Here is a study on how vaccine rumours and conspiracy theories increase vaccine hesitancy.
A new study has found that conspiracy theorists lack critical thinking skills, which thankfully is something that can be taught. From the article:
“Critical thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of a situation – and requires a number of cognitive skills include the ability to think systematically, see other perspectives, change your mind when new evidence arises, identify relevant versus irrelevant information, identify and discard logical fallacies, be aware of biases and avoid them, and look beyond the obvious.”
Which is a good enough place to finish this for now. I hope I have helped bring you more clarity, given you some perspective and have helped put some concerns at rest. I will be adding to it from time to time, as of course this is still a developing situation.
Be safe. Take care out there.