Can You Drink Alcohol After Getting The COVID Vaccine?

Can You Drink Alcohol After Getting The COVID Vaccine?

  • April 9, 2021

Let’s say you’ve done everything that’s been asked of you. You paid attention to the information regarding availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, made your appointment, and got the shots. Can you celebrate with a beer, cocktail, or glass of wine?

Looking through the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, they’ve got recommendations for painkillers, in which they say you should avoid taking OTC pain meds, like ibuprofen and Tylenol if you’re hoping that they’ll somehow blunt the potential side-effects of the vaccine. The CDC does say that it’s perfectly fine to take those pain meds post-vaccination, though.

When it comes to beer, wine, and hard liquor, there’s not a lot to find at the CDC website about how it will affect the COVID-19 vaccine’s overall effectiveness. However, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) website says that your immune system can be negatively effected by excessive alcohol consumption, but the study was not done with the COVID-19 vaccine in mind. The NIH study points out that excessive consumption of alcohol can cause multiple problems like:

“acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS), sepsis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD), and certain cancers; a higher incidence of postoperative complications; and slower and less complete recovery from infection and physical trauma, including poor wound healing.”

Okay, excessive drinking isn’t good for you at all, we get it. But will having a drink or two after being vaccinated cause you big problems? It turns out the answer is actually no. Health.com says it’s not going to help you feel any better, either.

They put the alcohol-after-vaccination question to some infectious disease experts, and while the experts wouldn’t recommend having cocktail hour right after you get your final shot, it’s not something they’re particularly worried about. The biggest objections to you having that celebratory libation breaks down to how it will make you feel.

Health.com:

“Vaccine side effects include muscle aches and pains and feeling under the weather. Compounding that with the side effects of alcohol runs the risk of making you feel worse,” Tania Elliott, MD, clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health.

Another doctor speculated that someone could confuse a hangover with side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, potentially frightening off others who had planned on receiving the shots.

 

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

You Need This in Your Diet After COVID Vaccine, Doctor Warns

You Need This in Your Diet After COVID Vaccine, Doctor Warns

  • April 8, 2021

After months of anticipation, millions of Americans have been vaccinated for COVID-19, and millions more continue to schedule their appointments each day. If you are among the latter group, it is important to know that when the day comes for your own shot, you want to make sure it has the maximum effect on your immune system, but also keep some of those potential unpleasant side effects to a bare minimum. And one way you can do that, experts say, is monitor your daily diet and food intake. Read on to discover what you should be eating once you’ve been vaccinated, and for some things to avoid during that time, Don’t Do This for 2 Days After Your COVID Vaccine, Doctors Say.

Steak and eggs high-protein breakfast meal
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Experts say that incorporating a sufficient amount of protein in your post-vaccine diet can help strengthen your body’s immune response and put you on the road to a smooth recovery. Integrative physician Ronald Hoffman, MD, told HuffPost that “the development of immunity depends on the body ‘reading’ instructions from the vaccine and synthesizing antibodies and white blood cells, which requires adequate protein in the diet.”

In addition, preventative global health expert Sandra El Hajj, PhD, said eating protein after your vaccine can help you avoid feeling physically weak. “Your body will need to burn a lot of energy. If you do not offer enough proteins through your diet, your muscle mass will start decreasing. As a result, you will feel weaker,” she said.

Nutrition consultant Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, also noted that foods high in protein are also rich in amino acids that can help improve immune system function. And for the info you should remember to get before heading home from your appointment, check out The One Question You Should Ask Before You Leave Your Vaccine Center.

Mid adult woman making cold-pressed juice in the kitchen. Focus on cold-pressed juicer
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The days following your vaccination may seem like a good time to hit your system with some fruits and vegetables in the form of a juice cleanse or detox regimen, but experts say you should hold off on that for a while. “A juice cleanse is devoid of protein and fiber. These are two nutrients that can protect and strengthen the immune system,” Kimszal said. And for something that you should do after getting your COVID shot, check out The First Thing You Need to Do After You’re Fully Vaccinated, Experts Say.

Healthy vegetarian dinner. Woman in grey jeans and sweater eating fresh salad, avocado half, grains, beans, roasted vegetables from Buddha bowl
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There’s no big secret when it comes to your post-vaccine diet other than making sure it is healthy and well-balanced.

“Eat a normal healthy meal, mostly plant-based with whole foods and healthy oils,” suggested physician, scientist, and author William Li, MD. “Avoid ultra-processed foods and artificial sweeteners.” It also can’t hurt to throw in some foods that are known help strengthen the immune system. “Mushrooms, broccoli sprouts, and blueberries all have evidence for supporting immunity in human studies,” Li said. “These are delicious and have many health defense-boosting properties.” And for more information on the COVID vaccine delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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The food you’re consuming isn’t the only thing you need to be thoughtful about following your vaccine. Li also stressed the importance of staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol because it can depress the immune system.

Tania Elliott, MD, a clinical instructor of medicine at NYU Langone Health, told Health that drinking alcohol after your vaccine could even make your side effects more severe. “Vaccine side effects include muscle aches and pains and feeling under the weather,” she said. “Compounding that with the side effects of alcohol runs the risk of making you feel worse.” And for the things that remain off limits even after being vaccinated, check out The CDC Says Don’t Do This Until 4 Weeks After Getting Vaccinated.

Army lab hopes its COVID vaccine will work as booster shot

Army lab hopes its COVID vaccine will work as booster shot

  • April 8, 2021

Army scientists are testing whether their new COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which entered human trials this week, can serve as a universal booster shot for all other available coronavirus vaccines.

Nearly 20% of Americans have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using one of three authorized vaccines.

But with public health experts and government officials anticipating the need for booster shots down the line, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research are examining whether their vaccine candidate can “mix and match” with the others to enhance and prolong protection.

The Walter Reed vaccine — called SpFN — may boost the duration and breadth of immune responses in combination with other vaccines, which are made using different technologies, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of Walter Reed’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch, said in an interview with McClatchy on Thursday.

“This is something that we actually started planning before the whole field started looking at this, but the rest of the field of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development is now coming to look at these issues as well,” Modjarrad said, using the technical term for the novel coronavirus.

“We think this vaccine also has utility as a booster for another type of vaccine, in addition to its role as a stand-alone vaccine,” he said, referring to the Walter Reed vaccine candidate.

Mixing and matching different vaccines has been an area of “intense investigation” for vaccine researchers over many years, Modjarrad added. But it has never been implemented before.

Two COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use — produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — use messenger RNA technology, known as mRNA, which teaches human cells how to make proteins that trigger an immune response.

A third FDA-authorized vaccine for emergency use, produced by Johnson & Johnson, uses viral vector technology with which a harmless virus becomes a courier to provide cells with instructions to prepare an immune response. AstraZeneca, which also uses that technology, has submitted data on its vaccine to the FDA for review.

The Water Reed vaccine differs from those vaccines. It injects ready-made, multifaceted proteins into the body which may be able to prepare the immune system for different variants and strains of coronaviruses at once.

“When you look to other fields, like HIV or influenza, we’ve learned a lot from the research on those viruses,” Modjarrad said.

“And what we’ve seen is that when you start with a vaccine that is like a genetic vaccine — DNA, mRNA — or a virus vector, and then you come in and you boost with a protein, you get a stronger response, a longer response and a broader response, rather than coming in with the same platform,” he said.

After months of studying their vaccine candidate in different animals, Walter Reed scientists began their clinical trial in humans on Tuesday. Four volunteer participants were injected with the vaccine in the first two days. After initial observation of these individuals, the first phase of the trial will expand to 72 people, and initial results are expected mid-summer.

Modjarrad’s team designed SpFN to be a highly adaptable vaccine that can address multiple variants of the pandemic coronavirus in a single shot, and potentially provide protection against past and future coronaviruses.

The Army lab, at the same time, is researching whether its vaccine candidate can be used as a stand-alone vaccine and a booster, Modjarrad said.

“Speed is everything, so everything is being done in parallel,” he said. “We’re addressing the questions of this vaccine being used as a booster at the same time that we’re addressing the question of this vaccine being used on its own.”

Modjarrad has briefed Defense Department leadership and the federal COVID-19 response team on the vaccine’s profile for safety and effectiveness based on animal trials. They have expressed eagerness for the future findings from human trials, he said.

“I think this is a great week for us, but also for the U.S. military and global health, because this vaccine is not a repetition of other vaccines. We have always been positioning this vaccine to be a next-generation product that is thinking toward the future,” Modjarrad said. “This is what we’ve been working towards for the past year.”

Michael Wilner is a White House correspondent for McClatchy and leads coverage of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. Previously, Wilner served as Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post. He holds degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University and is a native of New York City.

More Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccines Expected in Broome

More Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccines Expected in Broome

  • April 1, 2021

Broome County has just been approved to send medical technicians into homes to vaccinate the home-bound not enrolled in home healthcare programs against COVID-19.

County officials say the Community Peri-Medical Program will start giving one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines to the elderly in their homes.

One-dose vaccines were given over the past few weeks to homebound residents who are enrolled in Lourdes at Home and UHS at Home programs.

Several area residents have asked about when they might be able to get the single dose Jenssen Johnson & Johnson shot instead of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna, which has primarily been offered through the Broome County Point of Distribution at the SUNY Broome Ice Center.  Only one clinic, on March 17, had the J&J vaccine for the eligible general population.

Officials explain, the Johnson and Johnson shot, which doesn’t have to be kept in special, extremely cold freezers, has been directed primarily to programs where it is more difficult to get to a patient or for a patient to return for their second shot.  That could be the home-bound, county jail inmates who frequently aren’t held long enough to get the first dose then the second dose 28 days later or more rural areas where transportation is an issue.

Broome County Public Health Director Rebecca Kauffman says, however there could be some Johnson and Johnson shots available to the eligible general public as early as next week.  Keep checking the county website for vaccination clinic schedules.

KEEP READING: See 25 natural ways to boost your immune system

Women Reporting Stronger Side Effects to COVID Vaccines

Women Reporting Stronger Side Effects to COVID Vaccines

  • March 31, 2021


Loundy isn’t the only one noticing a gender difference. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that many more women than men are experiencing side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

In the first month of COVID-19 vaccinations, more than 79 percent of vaccine side effects were reported by women, even though women received just about 61.2 percent of the doses, the data shows.

In addition, severe allergic reactions to the vaccines have mostly occurred among women. Although the reactions are extremely rare, all 19 reported anaphylactic reactions to the Moderna vaccine occurred in women, and women accounted for 44 of 47 anaphylactic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, CDC data shows.

Men may not report side effects

Doctors and gender experts say they aren’t surprised that women have had stronger reactions.

“We have seen this before,” says Megan Donnelly, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and head of women’s neurology and the headache center at Novant Health in Charlotte, North Carolina. “If you look at flu vaccine data, it was more women seeing more side effects and severe reactions.”

Experts say it’s possible men are less likely than women to report post-vaccine reactions because masculine stereotypes call for men to be stoic.

“Is there a culture of men not wanting to speak up when they have symptoms? That may be part of it,” says Anne Liu, an allergist, immunologist and infectious disease specialist at Stanford University School of Medicine.

But Liu, Donnelly and other experts say biological differences also play a role.

Women have stronger immune responses

Historically, women have a stronger immune response to vaccines than men, and experts say that’s the most likely reason for their more intense side effects.

“It means that women’s immune systems are responding to the vaccine, and that is a positive thing, so you know it’s working,” says Rosemary Morgan, a scientist who studies gender differences at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In studies and research, women and girls produce more infection-fighting antibodies than men when they get vaccinations for influenza, yellow fever, rabies, hepatitis A and B, and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Morgan says.

The more robust female immune response is also why women are generally better at fighting off infections such as sepsis, pneumonia and, now, COVID-19. Studies show that men who get COVID-19 are almost three times as likely to require intensive care as women who are infected, and they’re also more likely to die.

On the other hand, women are twice as likely as men to have autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis — another consequence of their strong immune response. In those disorders, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body and causes inflammation.

Donnelly says the same phenomenon could also explain why women are more likely to identify as “long-haulers” — COVID-19 survivors who have symptoms that last for months after they are no longer infected with the coronavirus. Many doctors believe the condition isn’t caused by the virus itself, Donnelly says, but “from the immune system going into overdrive and fighting even after the virus has been cleared.”

Hormones, genes may play a role

Experts aren’t sure exactly why men and women have such different immune responses, but hormones probably play a role. Studies have linked high amounts of testosterone to a weaker immune response, while estrogen and progesterone seem to boost the body’s defenses.

A small study published in March 2021 in the journal Chest found that giving hospitalized male COVID-19 patients the female hormone progesterone improved clinical outcomes.

Scientists have also identified several genes related to immunity that reside on the X chromosome, points out Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., a physician in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine. Men have just one X chromosome, while women have two.

If one of your immunity genes is defective, you’ll have a weakened response when a virus invades, Galiatsatos says. “But women have a reserve, an extra X that allows them to compensate,” he says.

Are doses sized for men?

Gender bias in drug development and the size of vaccine doses could also play a role. Women have historically been excluded from many clinical trials and research studies, Morgan says. Even now, sex-segregated data is rarely reported when vaccines and medications are tested.

“Could women be receiving more dose than they need?” Morgan asks. “They are smaller, they have less muscle, they metabolize things differently.”

It’s also possible a lower dose would be just as effective in women and cause fewer side effects, she says.


These Vitamins Are Needed Before Your COVID Vaccine, Doctor Says

These Vitamins Are Needed Before Your COVID Vaccine, Doctor Says

  • March 29, 2021
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As COVID vaccine eligibility is opening up for millions more Americans across the nation, many people are preparing for their long-awaited, life-saving shots. More than 95 million people in the U.S.—approximately 28 percent of the population—have already received at least one dose of their coronavirus vaccine, as of Mar. 28, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you’re in the remainder of the not-yet-vaccinated population, Andrew Myers, MD, a naturopathic physician who co-authored the soon-to-be released book Simplifying the COVID-19 Puzzle, has shared with our sister site, Eat This Not That Health, which vitamins could help you have a strong reaction to the COVID vaccine.

“The stronger an individual’s immune system, the more responsive they are to a vaccine,” Myers told ETNT Health. The vaccines work by introducing the threat of the virus (either via an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer or Moderna or a viral vector vaccine like Johnson & Johnson) to your body, prompting your immune system to recognize it and be prepared to fight it off in the future. And, in order to strengthen your immune system, Myers suggests turning to supplements and vitamins. “Supplemental nutrition is the most direct way to impact your immune health and function in the near term, and the following nutrients are essential as a part of your immune-boosting efforts,” he said. Read on to discover what vitamins the doctor recommends, and for more ways to prepare for your COVID vaccination, check out 2 Things You Need to Stop Eating Before Your COVID Vaccine, New Study Says.

young man in white shirt standing in white bathroom taking vitamins out of a pill bottle in his hand
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According to Myers, vitamin K2 is one of the five essential nutrients to boost your body’s immunity, in addition to incorporating healthy food into your regular diet.

Myers said research he collected with his co-author, Grace McComsey, MD, “indicates that insufficient levels of vitamin K2 … are directly related to our susceptibility to COVID-19 and the seriousness of the outcomes should you become hospitalized.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describes vitamin K has a nutrient ideal for blood clotting and healthy bones. Myers explained that vitamin K2 is still “critical,” but, as Healthline explains, K2 is “mainly found in certain animal and fermented foods, which most people don’t eat much of,” so there are multivitamin/multimineral supplements that you can take instead. However, you should talk to your doctor before adding any supplements of K2, or any other vitamin on this list, to your routine.

And for the vitamin to steer clear of, check out If You’re Overdoing This Supplement, Your Heart Is at Risk, Doctors Say.

doctor trying to sell vitamins to a pregnant woman
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Additionally, vitamin D3 is useful in helping your body get ready for a vaccine. “Vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 work synergistically to improve our body’s ability to mount a robust immune response and regulate healthy inflammation,” Myers explained.

Healthline says that D3, a type of vitamin D, is only found in animal-sourced foods—oily fish and fish oil, liver, egg yolk, and butter—as well as dietary supplements.

“If somebody has nutritional deficiencies, nutrient deficiencies, then their immune system is not going to be operating at optimum levels,” Katherine Basbaum, RD, of UVA Health System, told the Daily Press. In regards to taking supplements like D3, Basbaum said, “if you take somebody with known vitamin, mineral deficiencies, and they’re kind of going into getting the vaccine with this weaker immune system, could it be beneficial? Possibly.”

And for more up-to-date COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

vitamin C pills and plastic bottle on the wooden table
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Another potentially helpful nutrient for your COVID vaccine is vitamin C, Myers noted. Vitamin C helps form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones, according to the Mayo Clinic. “Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells against the effects of free radicals—which might play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other diseases,” the experts at the Mayo Clinic explain.

While Heather Koza, MD, a family medicine physician in Michigan, told Eating Well that “there is not enough research to support that anti-inflammatory foods or supplements such as vitamin C will make the COVID vaccine more effective … in general, eating highly nutritious food and taking vitamin C does help the immune system.”

Louis Malinow, MD, an internal medicine physician in Maryland, also spoke with the website, and supported the intake of healthy food and dietary supplements to improve immunity. “A healthy diet that is maintained long-term can improve immune responsiveness and help us fight infections better and perhaps boost immune response to vaccination,” he said.

And for more day-of prep advice, find out why Doctors Say Do These 2 Things the Morning of Your Vaccine Appointment.

Vitamin pills spilling from an open bottle
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Myers also suggests people take zinc to build up immunity prior to their COVID vaccine. According to health retailer Holland and Barrett, zinc “activates enzymes that break down proteins in viruses and bacteria so they are less able to spread.” Additionally, the nutrient “increases the activation of cells responsible for fighting infection.”

Findings from an Apr. 2020 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine suggest that zinc supports anti-viral immunity and decreases inflammation in the body.

The nutrient cannot be created by the human body, however, it can be taken in through beans, dairy, shellfish, and whole grains.

omega 3 fish oil supplements
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Myers also recommends people take omega-3, “from either concentrated fish oil or vegan sources like Ahi Flower,” as an immune-boosting measure. Omega-3 can also be found in krill oil, cod liver oil, and algal oil, another vegan source from algae. The NIH says that the most important omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—which is found in flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are found in various types of seafood.

“Omega-3s are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body,” the NIH explains. “Omega-3s also provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system (the network of hormone-producing glands).”

And for more news on supplements, check out This Is the One Vitamin You Should Never Take, Doctors Say.

Covid vaccine side effects show your immune system works, say doctors

Covid vaccine side effects show your immune system works, say doctors

  • March 26, 2021

Doctors are getting questions about the possibility of short-lived, though sometimes uncomfortable, side effects after the second Covid shot. 

Mashable spoke with some of these doctors. They emphasize that the vaccines have continually proven safe, and any common side effects — like tiredness, a sore shoulder, fever, or aches — from the second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines are normal and relatively brief. The single-dose shot, from Johnson and Johnson, can have similar effects, too, though there’s evidence the side effects are less common. Overall, these temporary symptoms are your immune system in action as it responds to the vaccine. (None of the FDA-authorized vaccines contain the actual coronavirus, just harmless genetic information about the virus that codes for only a small piece of the virus.)

“These symptoms are expected,” emphasized Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious disease at the University of Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “It’s a signal your immune system is working and you are responding to the vaccine.”

Crucially, some people don’t have symptoms after getting the second shot of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. But this certainly doesn’t mean the vaccine is less effective in your body. “There’s no evidence of that,” explained Dr. Peter Gulick, a D.O. and professor of medicine at Michigan State University. Rather, different bodies respond to the vaccine differently, just as many of us respond to flu viruses, cold viruses, or bee stings in diverse ways. Some of us have these short-lived symptoms. Some don’t. That’s OK.

“We all react to everything differently,” said Dr. Gulick. “That’s just the way our immune systems are.” 

The side effects

In addition to the possibility of soreness, swelling, or redness where you get the shot, the following potential side effects are common for some after receiving a Covid vaccine, according to the CDC:

  • Tiredness

  • Headache

  • Muscle pain

  • Chills

  • Fever

  • Nausea

Importantly, these side effects are temporary and go away within a day or 48 hours or so, said Dr. Russo. These that might require immediate medical treatment, like a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). This sort of extreme reaction is quite rare, happening on the order of just one to five per a million people, said Dr. Gulick. That’s expected. An extreme minority of people have a severe reaction to certain things, be it peanuts or penicillin or a vaccine. 

The rare serious allergic reactions to a Covid vaccine are not unusual compared to other vaccines. “These Covid-19 vaccines have no red flags, so to speak,” said Gulick. (To be safe, the health care professionals administering the vaccines ask you to wait 15 minutes post-vaccination to ensure you don’t have this type of severe reaction, which they’re prepared to treat.)

“These Covid-19 vaccines have no red flags”

Yet, expect the possibility of milder side effects after the second Covid dose. Over half of people may experience some mild symptoms, explained Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonary and critical care physician. “We think it’s more likely than not after the second dose,” explained Dr. Gupta, who is also an affiliate assistant professor of health metrics sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.  

Why are side effects common after the second dose?

The two-shot vaccines introduce a piece of harmless genetic code (called mRNA) into our bodies, which instructs our cells to make just the part of the coronavirus (the infamous spike protein) that binds with our cells and infects us. This allows our immune system to prepare defenses (called antibodies) against the virus so it can’t attach, among building other cellular defenses. “You’re getting parts of the virus to protect you from an infection,” explained Dr. Russo. 

By the second dose, our bodies have already seen this critical piece of the virus, and are now extra-ready to respond to the intruder. “The first dose gets that immune system primed,” said Dr. Gulick. So when the second vaccine dose (which acts to turbo-charge our immune system against the coronavirus) comes, the immune system reacts strongly to the perceived threat, and produces many more antibodies. As a consequence, we can experience some common effects of the human body’s typical immune response to an intruder, like a fever or aches. “It’s part of the body’s response to an infection,” said Dr. Russo, though you’re not actually getting an infection, he added.

A graphic showing the infamous spike proteins on the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

A graphic showing the infamous spike proteins on the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

So if you do have side effects, it’s normal and temporary. “If you have those symptoms, it’s reassuring your immune system has gone to work,” explained Dr. Russo. But if you don’t have symptoms, that doesn’t mean your immune system isn’t working. “Our immune response [to the Covid vaccines] is good whether you have these symptoms or not,” Dr. Russo added.  

Vaccine day

Some of us may be uncomfortable following the second dose with the likes of a headache or aches. That’s why it’s prudent to prepare for that possibility, and take the day off work if you need.

“If you can take the day off after the second dose, do so,” recommended Dr. Gupta.

Think of it similar to a “snow day,” said Dr. Russo. “You get a blanket and some Tylenol if you need, you do some binge-watching. But only a minority of people will actually need a vaccine day,” he added.

[Ask your doctor about what over-the-counter medications you might consider taking if you have unpleasant post-vaccination symptoms.]

The possibility of relatively mild, temporary symptoms are a small price to pay for the protection the vaccines provide. All three FDA-authorized Covid vaccines, including the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are excellent vaccine options. They protect well against symptoms overall, and most importantly, have all proven in clinical trials (involving tens of thousands of people) to protect against severe Covid disease that results in hospitalization and death. “They keep you out of the hospital,” said Dr. Gupta. 

So don’t be hesitant to get a Covid vaccine or the second dose, emphasized Dr. Russo. The vaccines are safe and build proven immunity.

“The vaccines are protecting us,” said Dr. Gulick. 

WATCH: How to use your COVID vaccine guilt to fight for health equity

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Beware the desire to "make hay while the sun shines" - the ASA warns marketers to "think very carefully" before making COVID-19 claims

COVID has Brought Unexpected New Approaches to Autoimmune and Allergic Diseases

  • March 25, 2021

Albert Einstein said, “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science”. Despite tremendous progress in some fields, many new pharmaceutical products deliver modest incremental improvements for patients and real advances in medical science are sadly infrequent.

It is therefore very exciting that the success of the mRNA COVID vaccines has opened the door to long-awaited solutions for other widespread, life-threatening and debilitating diseases; an advance that could transform the standard of care of patients. There are many companies that are working with mRNA for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases. The potential of nucleic acids to address these diseases has been recognized for more than 20 years. However, there are only two companies, Vaxerna and BioNTech, that are known to be working on mRNA vaccines to suppress an immune response rather than to deliver the protective immune response sought by most companies.

In line with Einstein’s suggestion, Vaxerna and BioNTech have indeed considered the old problem of autoimmune and allergic diseases from a new angle. These diseases profoundly damage the quality of life of sufferers and are potentially fatal. Everyone knows someone with multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or peanut allergy. Current treatments are expensive and usually address the symptoms but not the causes. At best, they slow the progress rather than alter the course of the disease.

Despite the apparent diversity of these diseases, they have in common an unwanted and inappropriate immune response. It will surprise some people that vaccines have the potential to stimulate or, alternatively, suppress an immune response and the creative advance which Vaxerna and BioNTech have made is to see the potential of mRNA in the suppression of immune responses or, more accurately, the induction of tolerance.

This is how it works. Thanks to COVID, most people will have heard of T-cells. These cells lie at the heart of the immune system and are a vital part of many immune responses. There are many different types of T-cells but they fall into two broad categories respectively called T-helper cells and T-regulatory cells. T-helper cells recognize proteins seen by the immune system as associated with pathogens. They then attack the pathogen. T-regulatory cells are part of the self-recognition process whereby the immune system does not respond to proteins from the host’s own tissues or harmless non-self-proteins, for example, proteins in food.

Healthy people have a quiescent immunological state. When a danger signal is detected, which is usually associated with inflammation, the body’s immune system will produce T-helper cells which are specific to a protein which it associates with the threat. This alters the equilibrium between the two classes of T-cells in favour of T-helper cells which, hopefully, destroy the pathogen. However, when the immune system encounters a protein in the absence of danger signals, it will see no threat and produce T-regulatory cells.

Vaxerna and BioNTech’s creative idea is to design vaccines for autoimmune and allergic diseases which induce production of T-regulatory cells to the proteins that the immune system is inappropriately attacking and thus restore tolerance to these proteins. To get the required response to the vaccines, they must be delivered at a time at which there is no inflammatory immune activity which the T-cells will see as a sign of danger. For example, in the case of autoimmune diseases treatment should take place during remissions and in the case of allergy, in the absence of the allergen which causes allergic disease. Unlike other mRNA vaccine approaches, these vaccines do not themselves create inflammation and accordingly generate the required T-regulatory tolerising response.

These new tolerising vaccines combine two technologies which are now well proven and appear made for each other. First, there is the evidence from COVID that shows that mRNA vaccines, which have been talked about for twenty years, actually work. Secondly, there is the long experience of allergy immunotherapy and, most notably, peptide immunotherapy. Powerful data has been produced showing that delivery of carefully selected peptides derived from allergens can suppress allergic symptoms for an extended duration when presented in the absence of inflammation. Patients were followed for two years after conclusion of treatment and the patients showed no signs of their allergy returning. Since the patients were not followed for longer the treatment cannot be called a cure, but other forms of allergen immunotherapy have shown amelioration of symptoms for seven years with no further treatment. Vaxerna will encode peptides derived from allergens into mRNA to deliver them with the same economy, convenience and efficiency that has been shown in the COVID vaccines.

In a paper, which was published in January this year, called “A non-inflammatory mRNA vaccine for the treatment of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis”, BioNTech showed that an mRNA vaccine encoding antigen peptide sequences associated with the mouse form of multiple sclerosis could prevent further disease progression and restore motor functions. This included the reversal of paralysis in some cases, although they attributed this mostly to the anti-inflammatory effect of the treatment rather than any tissue repair. Of course, scientists will say that you can cure a mouse of anything and that this will not necessarily translate to humans – and that is true. However, the reverse is just as true. If you can’t do it in a mouse it is unlikely that you will be able to do it in a human. BioNTech’s work is very important.

The combination of Vaxerna’s and BioNTech’s mRNA technologies offer long-lasting potentially disease-altering treatments for important conditions which are currently addressed by symptom suppression. The changes to the immune system brought about by these new mRNA tolerising vaccines may last for the patient’s life. What is more, their specificity means that other important immune responses are unaffected by the vaccines leaving the patient’s immune system intact – unlike many general immune-suppressant treatments offered for autoimmune and allergic diseases today.

By any standard, these new tolerising mRNA vaccines have the potential to mark a real advance in science and change the treatment paradigm for patients who currently have to manage their diseases for the rest of their lives.

UC San Diego launches first-of-its-kind clinical trial to see if mushrooms can fight COVID

UC San Diego launches first-of-its-kind clinical trial to see if mushrooms can fight COVID

  • March 25, 2021

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Scientists continue to search for better treatments for COVID-19, and researchers at UC San Diego think one solution might be growing on trees.

They’ve just launched a clinical trial to see if certain mushrooms can help treat the disease in its early stages. The trial, which is enrolling volunteers now, is the first study of its kind authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

“We think mushrooms may have the ability to reduce the severity of COVID,” said principal investigator Dr. Gordon Saxe. Saxe is a preventive and integrative medicine physician who leads the Krupp Center for Integrative Research at UCSD.

Mushrooms have been used in medicine for thousands of years, notably by the Greeks and Chinese. Studies have shown the fungi have a range of pathogen-fighting and immune-boosting properties.

The first antibiotic, penicillin, was derived from a mushroom.

These medicinal properties are a byproduct of evolution, Saxe said. Mushrooms and other fungi can be infected by viruses and bacteria just like humans, so they developed defenses over time.

“They evolved all kinds of amazing antimicrobial defenses against viruses in particular, and we can benefit from what they have produced. The medicines they contain can get conveyed to us when we ingest them,” he said.

There are about 12,000 known species of mushrooms and Dr. Saxe’s team has honed in on two: turkey tail and agarikon. Both are native to old growth forests in North America. They do not have hallucinogenic properties.

“They are no more psychoactive than the button mushrooms you would put in a stir fry,” Saxe said.

In lab tests, agarikon has shown strong antiviral activity against drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis along with H1N1 (swine flu), H5N1 (bird flu), cowpox and herpes viruses, according to mushroom expert Paul Stamets, a collaborator on the study.

In some experiments, compounds in agarikon were 10 times more potent against flu viruses than the pharmaceutical ribavirin, Stamets said.

Dr. Saxe is now recruiting 132 volunteers recently diagnosed with COVID-19 for the double-blind, controlled study at UCSD and UCLA. Volunteers will take capsules of mushroom powder or a placebo three times a day for up to two weeks. Participants will be compensated $250.

Interested volunteers should email covid19trial@ucsd.edu or call (858) 249-6896.

Other studies are already in the works. Research has shown mushrooms can boost the immune system, particularly helper T cells that orchestrate antibodies. Dr. Saxe is planning to launch a second FDA authorized study as early as May to explore whether taking mushrooms can stimulate a stronger response to the COVID-19 vaccines.

A third COVID study will explore a Chinese herbal formula that has been used in Eastern Medicine for more than two millennia.

“People are realizing that there was wisdom in some of the ancient approaches, but we need to retest these things using modern science,” Dr. Saxe said.

This story was first published by Derek Staahl at KGTV.

Can mushrooms fight COVID? UC San Diego launches first-of-its-kind clinical trial

Can mushrooms fight COVID? UC San Diego launches first-of-its-kind clinical trial

  • March 24, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Scientists continue to search for better treatments for COVID-19, and researchers at UC San Diego think one solution might be growing on trees.

They’ve just launched a clinical trial to see if certain mushrooms can help treat the disease in its early stages. The trial, which is enrolling volunteers now, is the first study of its kind authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

“We think mushrooms may have the ability to reduce the severity of COVID,” said principal investigator Dr. Gordon Saxe. Saxe is a preventive and integrative medicine physician who leads the Krupp Center for Integrative Research at UCSD.

Mushrooms have been used in medicine for thousands of years, notably by the Greeks and Chinese. Studies have shown the fungi have a range of pathogen-fighting and immune-boosting properties.

The first antibiotic, penicillin, was derived from a mushroom.

These medicinal properties are a byproduct of evolution, Saxe said. Mushrooms and other fungi can be infected by viruses and bacteria just like humans, so they developed defenses over time.

“They evolved all kinds of amazing antimicrobial defenses against viruses in particular, and we can benefit from what they have produced. The medicines they contain can get conveyed to us when we ingest them,” he said.

There are about 12,000 known species of mushrooms and Dr. Saxe’s team has honed in on two: turkey tail and agarikon. Both are native to old growth forests in North America. They do not have hallucinogenic properties.

“They are no more psychoactive than the button mushrooms you would put in a stir fry,” Saxe said.

In lab tests, agarikon has shown strong antiviral activity against drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis along with H1N1 (swine flu), H5N1 (bird flu), cowpox and herpes viruses, according to mushroom expert Paul Stamets, a collaborator on the study.

In some experiments, compounds in agarikon were 10 times more potent against flu viruses than the pharmaceutical ribavirin, Stamets said.

Dr. Saxe is now recruiting 132 volunteers recently diagnosed with COVID-19 for the double-blind, controlled study at UCSD and UCLA. Volunteers will take capsules of mushroom powder or a placebo three times a day for up to two weeks. Participants will be compensated $250.

Interested volunteers should email covid19trial@ucsd.edu or call (858) 249-6896.

Other studies are already in the works. Research has shown mushrooms can boost the immune system, particularly helper T cells that orchestrate antibodies. Dr. Saxe is planning to launch a second FDA authorized study as early as May to explore whether taking mushrooms can stimulate a stronger response to the COVID-19 vaccines.

A third COVID study will explore a Chinese herbal formula that has been used in Eastern Medicine for more than two millennia.

“People are realizing that there was wisdom in some of the ancient approaches, but we need to retest these things using modern science,” Dr. Saxe said.

capsimmunesystem.org