Every week I receive emails asking why I recommend vaccinations against COVID-19 when they can have serious side effects that can result in hospitalizations and deaths. I have been following the data and research since the beginning of the pandemic, and they clearly show that:
• Vaccination helps to prevent hospitalization or death from COVID-19 by a very wide margin
• The rates of heart damage or death from vaccination are vastly lower than from the disease itself
It is true that immunity from vaccination drops with time, so that repeat vaccinations are necessary. It is also true that vaccinations can cause side effects. There are some people who should not be vaccinated, but this is not a political issue. It is a matter of preventing severe disease and death.
Hospitalization: Recent studies show that unvaccinated people are 10.5 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than fully-vaccinated people and 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who have received a single booster dose (JAMA Intern Med, 2022;182(10):1071-1081).
Intensive Care: Unvaccinated people are three times more likely to need intensive care than vaccinated people (JAMA Netw Open, 2022;5(10):e2238871).
Deaths: An unvaccinated person is five times more likely to die from COVID-19 than a vaccinated person, with two deaths per 100,000 in vaccinated people compared to 10 deaths per 100,000 in unvaccinated people (CDC MMWR, Oct 21, 2022).
Myocarditis After Vaccination
Heart muscle damage can occur after COVID-19 vaccination, but a review of 23 observational studies of 854 people (ages 12-20) with myocarditis found that it occurred in 3-5 people per million vaccinated, and no deaths were reported (JAMA Pediatr, Dec 5, 2022). More detail here
Bivalent Vaccines and Boosters
The new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is more effective than previous vaccines in preventing hospitalization. A study of 1,168 healthy adults found that the bivalent COVID-19 vaccination provides a 73 percent greater protection from hospitalization in healthy adults over 65 years of age, compared to the earlier monovalent mRNA vaccination (CDC MMWR, Dec 16, 2022/71).
Reinfection rates from COVID-19 are high. The relative protection of prior infection against reinfection with the later Omicron variant is 56 percent, compared with 92 percent for the earlier Delta variant (N Engl J Med, 2022;386(13):1288-1290).
A third injection (second booster) is more protective than just two injections. A study of 306,710 Israeli adults found that patients who received a total of three injections came down with COVID-19 less often and were less likely to be hospitalized than those who received only two injections (JAMA Intern Med, 2022;182(2):179-184).
Vaccinations offer only temporary protection. Nine months after infection, people have significant COVID-19 antibodies in their bloodstream, but very low levels of nasal IgA antibodies, that help to prevent the germ from growing in your nose. That is why you are at significant risk for reinfection after either vaccination or having the disease (eBioMedicine, The Lancet, Dec 19, 2022;10442).