Why I just Got Vaccinated

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Yesterday, I was vaccinated in our first round with other healthcare workers. You may be wondering if you should or shouldn’t get vaccinated. Let me tell you why I did. Let’s dig in.

The Two Vaccines Available

There is a Pfizer and Moderna vaccine available right now. Both are made using synthetic mRNA. The vaccines work by directing the body to produce a small amount of the spike protein from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This causes the body to produce antibodies to the spike protein, which can then actively target the virus. Neither vaccine contains any type of inactivated virus.

Both of these vaccines are about equally effective (95 and 94%). The Pfizer vaccine requires -80C freezer storage while the Moerna vaccine can be refrigerated.

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What Is mRNA?

In your body, messenger RNA (mRNA) takes its instructions from DNA in the nucleus of the cell. It’s then exported into the cytoplasm where it makes a protein with those specific instructions. The new protein is then folded so that it can work in the body. So if your body wants more of a specific protein, it upregulates the mRNA that encodes for that protein.

One problem for mRNA vaccines has been that the molecules are not very stable. This issue has been solved in these vaccines is by encasing the mRNA in lipid nanoparticles (small bubbles of fat) which protects them from the body’s breakdown enzymes.

Is this Vaccine Going to Rewrite My DNA?

One of the conspiracy theories out there is that this vaccine because it uses nRNA, will somehow permanently edit your DNA. This is ridiculous. mRNA is made from DNA and then makes proteins. mRNA doesn’t hang around for long. Hence, this mRNA will produce proteins and go away, as it should. There is no way for this mRNA to rewrite your DNA.

Possible Side Effects

An early concern of using mRNA vaccines was that they would be recognized as foreign and cause the body to mount an inflammatory immune response. However, in a seminal 2005 paper, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania reported that synthetic mRNA could both increase protein production and drastically suppress the immune system’s reaction to it (1).

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Actual Side Effects

Given that tens of millions of doses of both vaccines have already been administered world-wide and we can all count the severe side effects that have been reported (mostly allergic reactions in patients who were allergic enough to carry epi-pens), these vaccines are far safer than driving your car to get them. Meaning that severe and short-term side effects are about 1 in a million and your chances of a driving death this year are 1/8,303. Hence, you should be more worried about texting and driving on your way to getting the vaccine than the side effects of the vaccine (2).

My COVID Death Risk

I’m 57 years old right now and therefore, I’m in the 55-64 CDC age range where 35,981 people have died (3). Using 2018 mortality tables, COVID-19 would rank as the number three cause of death, just below Cancer at 113,947 and Heart Disease at 81,042. It would be above injury-related deaths at 23,693. So nothing to sneeze at for sure.

Returning to Normal

To be honest with you, I’m not so concerned about dying from COVID-19. There are about 20 million people in my CDC age range and only 35K of them died of COVID this year. That means that the odds of me dying from COVID are about 1 in 550. Likely less given that most that perished would have had illnesses that I don’t have. Given that my lifetime risk of dying in a car crash is about 1 in 100 and I have no issues driving my car, my personal risk of dying from COVID is remote and not something I often think about. Sure, I could die from COVID, but it’s much more likely I could die of a heart attack or cancer.

No, a bigger reason I wanted this vaccine is that I want the world around me to return to normal and I know that if I do my part by getting the vaccine, then that will happen sooner rather than later. While I might not need much protecting, hopefully, this will get us toward herd immunity and protect others.

In addition, I treat patients in Grand Cayman three times a year and I want to get back down there so I can begin treating my patients again. That country, like many others, will require vaccinations for travelers. I also love traveling in general and I know that the likelihood of being able to do that sooner rather than later goes up if I’m vaccinated. Finally, my patients will know that I as their physician am vaccinated.

The upshot? Please get vaccinated when it’s offered. If you’re elderly, you can make a decent case based on your odds of dying from COVID. If you’re younger, that case doesn’t hold water. However, it’s really to protect others and so that we can end these lockdowns and return to normal!

NOTE: I am NOT an anti-vaxxer, never have been. I am a medical doctor who looks at the research and draws his own conclusions. All of my children got their vaccinations. None have had any issues. Nor do I believe that vaccines are evil, In fact, I believe they have saved far more lives than they have hurt. 

While I’m always happy to post comments that oppose my point of view, I draw the line at outright conspiracy theories. I’ve gotten a number of poorly referenced comments that I have not published because when I click on the links provided, they take me to anti-vaxxer sites where the people writing their opinions espouse “out there” theories that make no scientific sense. Hence, if you leave a comment, I will check the scientific accuracy of the opinions or links, and if after 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, a year of internship, three years of residency, additional medical training, and two decades of scientific publications I determine they are written by nutjobs, I won’t post them. If they are actually scientifically valid points of caution, I will post them. 

________________________________

References:

(1) Karikó K, Buckstein M, Ni H, Weissman D. Suppression of RNA recognition by Toll-like receptors: the impact of nucleoside modification and the evolutionary origin of RNA. Immunity. 2005 Aug;23(2):165-75. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2005.06.008. PMID: 16111635.

(2) Insurance Information Institute. Facts + Statistics: Mortality risk. https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-mortality-risk Accessed 1/3/21

(3) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. Weekly Updates by Select Demographic and Geographic Characteristics. Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm Accessed 1/3/21.

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33 thoughts on “Why I just Got Vaccinated

  1. AG

    Which one did you get Dr C? Pfizer or Moderna?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Moderna

  2. Gary Matthies

    If you have already had Covid 19 and recovered, should a person still get the vaccine? How long does a person who had it stay immune? How long will the vaccine keep a person immune and will people need to get it again after a certain period of time?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Gary, if you had COVID and recovered, you should see if you have IgG antibodies. If you do, then no need to get teh vaccine (unless it’s required for something you want to do). Nobody knows the length of immunity created by the vaccine at this point.

  3. Greg

    My main apprehension regarding the vaccine was that this is a relatively new technology with a shortened study time period. While the antibodies created by the vaccine will fade as antibodies tend to do, T-cell immunity could last longer, and my concern would be that we aren’t sure if these T-cells could cause a delayed autoimmune reaction. We could not know this for another year or two. While I will get the vaccine once it’s available to me, this makes me question whether I should have my children vaccinated until there is more long-term data. Thank you for your input!

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Greg, given how this works, I think it would be very unlikely to impact t-cells. Meaning the m-RNA is manufacturing a protein that then gets recognized as foreign. Your body encounters many foreign proteins in your body every day. mRNA is rapidly degraded after use. So while nothing can be ruled out, the good news is that the mechanism of action holds up as safe until proven otherwise.

  4. ZLB

    As a trained virologist (BCM alum myself), I trully appreciate your pragmatic, no nonsense approach to covid data. Please, keep up your great work!
    Regarding the vaccine, I fully agree. My husband got Moderna vaccine yesterday and I am scheduled for next week.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Thanks!

  5. Linda Hicks

    Did you choose Maderna over the Pfizer vaccine or was it the only one available in your area?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      It’s the one currently in use for healthcare workers here.

  6. Pete

    Hey Dr. Centeno,

    Thanks for your input about the vaccine. I believe everyone has the right to choose what they put into their bodies. As far as protecting others after getting the vaccine there is no conclusive evidence that it will protect you from getting the virus and spreading it others, according to the World Health Oranization website. Only time will tell if it is safe, because there are no long term studies. As far as Ivermectin goes the Eastern Virginia Medical School has a Covid 19 protocol that uses Ivermectin as a prophylaxis to help stop the virus in the early stages. The protocol also uses vitamins C, D3 & zinc to help build up the immune system and has been proven in the research studies to quell the Covid 19 virus. I believe the media has put too much focus on a vaccine rather than implementing strategies to help build up the immune system naturally. All of my claims can be backed up by pier reviewed research studies on Pubmed. Thanks…

  7. bob schwenkler

    Thanks for the information. I know you minimize the concern of death rates for your age but even more perspective, but these covid death #’s are heavily skewed by pre-existing conditions. So the question is- what is the rate for 55-64 age group for healthy people (with good immune)? This should drop the 1 in 550 dramatically for the healthy… cdc says only some 6% died from covid alone so that suggests ~94% “better” odds.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Yes, for healthy people in that age group, the death rates would be lower. The data to calculate that doesn’t exist right now (that I have seen). You can expect that there is a disproportionate number of people in that age group who died who were: already hosp[italized for something else, in long-term care facilities already, had serious pre-existing conditions who were under a physicians close monitoring, etc…

  8. Sam

    A Molecular Biologist and Immunologist (Prof. Cahill) explains how unsafe mRNA vaccines could turn out to be. So, before we take the experimental vaccine we better be sure that she is wrong.
    https://twitter.com/roccogalatilaw/status/1346832871504408577?s=20
    United Nations (1976) – International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “No one shall be subjected without his free (informed) consent to medical or scientific experimentation.”

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      This paper didn’t test the novel coronavirus (SARS-Cov2), but the MUCH more lethal (by two orders of magnitudes) SARS-CoV. In addition, it didn’t look at an mRNA/liposome vaccine but a deactivated whole virus vaccine (X2), a recombinant DNA vaccine (a very dangerous approach), and a virus against mouse hepatitis coronavirus. They tested the lungs at day 2 and 56, which means that if anything like this was happening, the initial study patients who got this vaccine would be dropping like flies. Moderna had enrolled 30,000 patients by Oct 22nd, so all of those patients are beyond day 56.

  9. Stacey Kaufman

    What is your medical professional opinion on those of us with dysautonomia, MCAS, autoimmune disorders getting the vaccine? I myself have opposite reaction to many medications, and the one time in my life I got a flu shot I became violently ill from it🥺

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      There would be no reason or rationale to believe that people with dysautonomia, MCAS, and autoimmune issues should have any more issues with this vaccine than anyone else.

  10. Steve

    Are you aware that in the case of the Pfizer vaccine, the 95% effective rate is based on only 196 people?

  11. Steve

    You are right, it was only 170 people. The Moderna trial used 196. If you read your own document, it states this in the first bullet point:

    Primary efficacy analysis demonstrates BNT162b2 to be 95% effective against COVID-19 beginning 28 days after the first dose;170 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were evaluated, with 162 observed in the placebo group versus 8 in the vaccine group.

    It goes on and states:

    The first primary objective analysis is based on 170 cases of COVID-19, as specified in the study protocol, of which 162 cases of COVID-19 were observed in the placebo group versus 8 cases in the BNT162b2 group.

    So how did they come up with 95%? Easy…..

    162/170 = .9529 or 95%

    Moderna used similar numbers

    185/196 = .9438 or 94.5%

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      This is a prevalence study for a rare event-getting clinically significant COVID-19. The numbers reported here as the numbers infected are typical for vaccine trials. For example, this Hep C vaccine was determined to be ineffective based on recruiting 548 patients with 14 in the control and 14 in the vaccinated group getting infected: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4490322/ That’s not a study of 28 patients, that’s a study of the effects of a vaccine on 548 patients.
      For the COVID trial, they vaccinated tens of thousands and the number that got sick in the active arm was 8 versus 162 in the control arm. That’s the way vaccine trials always go, so this is nothing new. The observed results are pretty darn good as vaccines go, beating the snot out of the influenza vaccines that have a 40-60% efficacy rate, see https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm

  12. Steve

    Are you saying that only 170 people out of the 40K+ participants got sick? If that is true then both the vaccine AND the placebo are wildly effective (99%+). That is simply not what happened. They took the first 150 or so people out of 40K who got sick and studied them and came up with those effective rates. The other 39K+ people played no part in the final results.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      This is from the FDA document on the Moderna vaccine: https://www.fda.gov/media/144434/download#:~:text=Efficacy%20data%20from%20the%20final,the%20placebo%20group%20and%20was

      The EUA request includes safety and efficacy data from an ongoing Phase 3 randomized, double-blinded and placebo-controlled trial of mRNA-1273 in approximately 30,400 participants. The primary efficacy endpoint is the reduction of incidence of COVID-19 among participants without evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection before the first dose of vaccine in the period after 14 days post-dose 2. In an interim analysis conducted using a data cutoff of November 7, 2020, a total of 27,817 participants randomized 1:1 to vaccine or placebo with a median 7 weeks of follow-up post-dose 2 were included in the per-protocol efficacy analysis population of participants without evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection prior to vaccination. Efficacy in preventing confirmed COVID-19 occurring at least 14 days after the second dose of vaccine was 94.5.0% (95% CI 86.5%, 97.8%) with 5 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group and 90 COVID-19 cases in the placebo group.

  13. Steve

    I just hope you don’t end up like this doctor.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2021/01/06/death-florida-doctor-following-pfizer-covid-19-vaccine-under-investigation-gregory-michael/6574414002/

    As for me, I will take my chances with covid against a strong immune system as opposed to a vaccine rushed to market with limited data on efficacy and potential side effects.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      1 death in 10 million delivered doses? You are much more likely to get struck by lightning and die.

  14. Sam

    Thanks for reviewing that paper. In that paper enhanced disease / immunopathologic reaction among infected animals vaccinated earlier with a coronavirus vaccine occurred after vaccinated animals were deliberately challenged/infected with 10^6 TCID50 of SARS-CoV intranasally. How can we find out whether the recipient of Covid-19 vaccines have yet got exposure to a high viral load while not living in a high viral load environment (i.e. in the same place with a severely symptomatic patient)? How can we find out a post-vaccination complication, if/when occurs, is related to vaccine (in whole or in part) rather than other comorbidities without extensive/expensive/complicated/time-consuming investigations that is not accessible/available/affordable to an ordinary person? What verifiable measures are in place to not conveniently attribute potential vaccine induced complications to other comorbidities? How can the claims of vaccine manufacturers in respect to what’s been injected, the mechanism of action, safety, efficacy, etc. be verified by a truly independent panel of experts who are not profiteering from PCR-Pandemic? After all, so far there has been great re-distribution of wealth from Have-nots to Haves through PCR-Pandemic / Vaccine-Panacea modus operandi. Many patients have been hit hard by current non-scientific restrictions in that they haven’t been able to gain access to much needed medical treatments. Why should their right to travel becomes subjected to demonstration of negative PCR test (regardless their vaccination status) before they are allowed to even return to their own country? Why should they (regardless their vaccination status) be stranded in another country for unidentified period of time due to false-positive (over 97%) PCR tests? As far as economy/restrictions are concerned, it is just a mere hope that the so called vaccine-panacea would snap the economy/restrictions back to previous-normal, and the prescribed new-normal is designed around further economic contractions/restrictions (Dark Winters) to the detriment of many small/medium businesses, lower/middle class, patients – in essence: majority of people. All those trillion dollars Covid-Aids need to be returned to the lenders (private bankers) with interest by ordinary people and since they are being put out of business it is their properties that will be taken away = the WEF-2030-Prophecy in which ordinary people would own nothing yet are happy (who dares to not be happy!). Long Live Dr. C! A lot of people love you! We do not wish that you expose yourself to unnecessary risk no matter how small that risk might turn out to be.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Please read tomorrow’s blog…

  15. Steve

    It’s interesting that you state that one of the main reasons for getting vaccinated is to “return to normal”, “herd immunity”, and “protect others”. I assume you know that these vaccines do not prevent infection nor do they prevent you from spreading it to others. The only thing they claim to do is to reduce the symptoms of the disease. You will not be protecting your patients even if the vaccine is effective. And for that you are taking on huge unknown risks and your risk of dying from the disease is almost zero.

    If you claim that these vaccines can prevent infection and transmission, show us the data.

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Steve, please read tomorrow’s blog.

  16. Robert

    Dr. C – I received Regenexx 3
    Stage Stem Cell treatment on my knee 3 weeks ago. I’m eligible to get the vaccine next week. Should I be concerned about the vaccine causing any problems with my recent treatment and subsequent recovery?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      No worries in that area

  17. Robert

    Dr. C – I received the three stage Regenxx Stem Cell treatment on my knee three weeks ago. I am eligible to get the vaccine next week and was wondering if I should be concerned any issues it may cause with my treatment and subsequent recovery?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      No issues.

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