The COVID pandemic has challenged us in many ways, and now we are fortunate that highly effective and safe vaccines have been developed that have been proven to:
- Protect the recipient from COVID illness in approximately 95% of cases.
- Prevent transmission of COVID disease to others in approximately 90% of recipients.
- Give significant protection against new variant strains of SARS-Cov2.
- Give more protection than the immunity induced by having had COVID.
The MOST EFFECTIVE way to protect your health and the health of others and to avoid variant strains of SARS-Cov2, which are more contagious and may be more virulent, from causing new illness and death, is by widespread vaccination.
Although in most cases, past infection provides protective immunity for some time, vaccines seem to be superior in their protective effect against repeat infection and disease than having had prior natural infection. Having antibodies after COVID infection does not necessarily protect against newer variant strains of the virus and antibody levels tend to wane with time.
Misinformation regarding the COVID vaccines have led to vaccine hesitancy among some people.
This document is intended to inform and share data, so you can make an educated decision regarding vaccination against SARS-Cov2 infection.
“BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SIDE EFFECTS AND REPORTED DEATHS AFTER COVID VACCINATION!?”
- Rigorous monitoring of side effects from millions of vaccinated people have shown minimal to no serious adverse events RELATED to the vaccine. What have been reported are deaths and events AFTER the vaccine but not FROM the vaccine. Deaths (and blood clots and heart attacks and pneumonia, etc.) occur every day, especially when observing a large population of millions of people.
- As part of transparency and honest reporting in medical research, ANY negative outcome that occurs after a treatment intervention (vaccination in our case) is reported EVEN IF IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TREATMENT. It is available for experts to then determine the possible association between the vaccine (or any new treatment) and the negative outcome. What people are reporting are negative events, but they are likely not due to vaccination and the occurrences are NO MORE FREQUENT than what was expected in the absence of vaccinations.
- Even blood clot concerns that are being investigated are extremely rare. A total of 18 deaths have been reported after the AstraZeneca vaccine from among over 655 million vaccines administered; a rate much lower than being struck by lightning. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been paused due to 6 cases of severe blood clots (only 1 death) occurring after 6.8 million vaccines administered in the US (risk of less than 1 in a million). Even if these events are linked to a vaccine, the risk of death and of blood clotting problems from COVID disease is much greater than that from any vaccine. Furthermore, for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines used in the US and Israel, not a single case of unusual blood clotting has yet been reported despite close to 170 million vaccines given in those countries.
- Some have raised concerns regarding miscarriages among pregnant women after vaccination. CHEMED Health Center has researched this question and contacted 80% of the pregnant women vaccinated, all of which were at least 20 days after their first dose. Only 2 women experienced a miscarriage, which translates into a miscarriage rate of 0.8%, which is much lower than the normal expected miscarriage rate (miscarriages occur in approximately 20% of pregnancies throughout the entire pregnancy, most occurring in the first trimester). COVID-19 disease is more severe and more dangerous in pregnancy. Data on COVID-19 disease in pregnancy has shown 3-fold greater rates of severe disease, hospitalization, life-support, and deaths among pregnant American women with COVID-19 compared to women with COVID-19 who are not pregnant. There is also evidence that COVID-19 disease increases rates of preterm birth. On the other hand, COVID-19 vaccines are safe in pregnancy, and has been received by tens of thousands of pregnant women in the US and in Israel. The rate of adverse events during pregnancy is not higher in vaccinated women than in the general pregnant population.
“THEY SAY THAT THE COVID VACCINE CAN CAUSE INFERTILITY!”
- There is no biological basis whatsoever to this claim. The immune response from the vaccine simulates the immune response to the virus, without causing true infection. Infertility has not been an observed complication of COVID disease and has not been reported in any CDC surveillance and there have been no reports suggesting infertility after vaccination.
- There is no data to support this myth. An active anti-vaccine campaign of disinformation has widely circulated this false claim that COVID-19 vaccines harm fertility. Despite a substantial proportion of the population on Earth having had COVID-19 infection, not a single report of infertility (among women or among men) following disease has emerged. Despite half a billion vaccine doses being given (many of which targeted young health workers, like nurses, around the world), not a single report of post-vaccine infertility or reduced fertility has emerged. Any claim of an association between COVID-19 vaccines and fertility is false. No study has ever suggested female (or male) infertility from any COVID vaccine.
“THE VACCINE WAS RUSHED AND NOT ENOUGH RESEARCH HAS BEEN DONE TO PROVE ITS SAFETY!”
- Scientific collaboration across countries and companies has allowed for a more rapid development of an effective vaccine, removing many bureaucratic hurdles to the development of drugs and treatments. The trials studied thousands of volunteers and the data safety monitoring was identical to the development of other vaccines. COVID-19 vaccines were developed and tested in vaccine trials that were among the largest trials ever conducted. These trials were conducted under very rigorous safety oversight. The trials have provided strong and definitive evidence of safety, which are widely published. The trials have proven that the vaccines are safe and have high efficacy.
- Antibody dependent enhancement (ADE): ADE is a known phenomenon in medicine, that can occur from past natural infection, and has been known to occur after some vaccines, leading to an amplified and harmful immune reaction in some people. This issue has been a major obstacle to the development of some other vaccines against very serious and common childhood infections. When COVID-19 began, scientists were well aware of this issue and were discussing it openly and publicly. Every vaccine study, from the animal work to human immunological and clinical trials, has examined this issue in detail. There has been to date no evidence of ADE occurring with any COVID-19 vaccine. Immunological work published for many vaccines show that the vaccines protect against This is good news, because it was a feature that has been carefully examined. ADE and severe immune-mediated disease occur also in natural infection. The benefits of vaccination in reducing COVID-19 disease means that vaccination will result in LESS, not more, ADE-like phenomena. ADE remains a theoretical issue that is under very close scrutiny, and many hundreds of rigorous scientific and medical investigations are strongly reassuring on this issue.
- More than 655 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given worldwide, including 165 million in the United States. In places where vaccines have been introduced, large-scale studies have shown substantial reductions in the burden of COVID-19, at a scale even larger than the original large trials.
- Israel has been leading the world in immunization coverage of the population. As a result of the successful roll-out of vaccination, rates of severe disease and deaths and new cases have declined very dramatically, allowing resumption of normal social activity.
“THE mRNA VACCINE WILL CHANGE HUMAN DNA AND ALTER PEOPLE’S BIOLOGY!”
- The mRNA vaccine for COVID, just like any other vaccine, does not alter human DNA. The mRNA molecule is a nucleotide that the body produces constantly to translate the genetic code and produce proteins for the body. The mRNA vaccine enters the cytoplasm of the cell and stimulates the machinery of the cell to produce the spike protein of the coronavirus. This protein then exits the cell and stimulates a robust immune response, preparing the immune system’s B-cells and T-cells for any invasion of possible COVID-19 infection and efficiently eliminating the SARS-Cov2 virus before allowing illness to develop. The mRNA virus does NOT enter the nucleus of the cell where DNA resides and NEVER gets incorporated into the DNA molecule, and obviously does not alter the DNA or the genetic code in people. The claims circulated by anti-vaccine campaigners that the vaccine changes human DNA are entirely false. Also, the vaccines do not contain hormones or any other chemical or biological mediator than can affect normal biological functioning.
“ISN’T THE COVID PANDEMIC OVER?”
- Despite the fact that many have experienced COVID disease, major segments of the population, even in the frum community, have not had COVID. As new virus variants spread throughout the country, the possibility of serious illness and death is real. Even newer treatments, such as monoclonal antibody infusions, steroids and anticoagulation, are not universally effective in preventing serious illness and death, especially if not initiated early enough in the course of disease.
“I HAD COVID ALREADY AND I HAVE ANTIBODIES – WHY DO I NEED TO TAKE THE VACCINE?”
- The CDC recommends that people who have already had COVID-19 and recovered from it should still be vaccinated, because we do not know how long natural immunity lasts after you recover from COVID-19 or whether it’s as strong as the immunity you get from vaccination. Receiving vaccination, even after past infection, is the best way to ensure strong and long-lived protection.
- If immunity fades, one could be at risk of contracting COVID a second time and possibly becoming sicker than the first time, as well as transmitting the disease to others.
“WHY SHOULD I TRUST MY DOCTOR OR THE MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT?”
- COVID-19 disease has been difficult for the medical community in many ways. As a new disease, just discovered at the end of 2019, we have been busy learning as much as possible and as quickly as possible in order to better treat the disease and discover a vaccine that will prevent it. The primary directive in medicine is “First do no harm!” Many layers of safety concerns are in place to ensure the safety of individuals and of the community. Despite political influences that may seem to you to muddy the waters, your doctors and the medical establishment are dedicated to the health and betterment of society. The physicians of our Lakewood community have no political bias or connection to pharmaceutical companies driving recommendations. Just as you trust your physician as an expert to guide you in any other disease, your doctor has your interest here too. Their understanding of infection, viruses and immunology will guide you with regard to COVID-19 to make the safest decision for you. If you don’t trust your doctor, find a doctor whom you do trust to guide you!
Naor Bar-Zeev, MD, MPH, PhD
Professor of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology
Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health
Howard Lebowitz, MD
Chief Medical Officer, AcuteCare Health System
Daniel Roth, MD
Professor, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Shimshi Zimmerman, DO, FACEP, FAEMS
Medical Director, Hatzolah of Central Jersey
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)