Maybe I am getting ahead of myself here but what are your thoughts on the new Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine?  Would you take it if your health system offered it to you in the next few months?  Would you feel safe to have the vaccine at this early stage in its development ?


Covid Vaccine

by Marybird - 2020-11-13 20:53:19

I'm amazed that this vaccine is making its appearance within what has to be a record time for vaccine development ( usually 2-3 years at a minimum) but I'm happy to see it. 

I won't be standing in line to get it, though, for a couple reasons. Other than this wonky cardiac electrical system, and high blood pressure that's controlled most of the time, and my age, I'm pretty healthy. And being retired, ahd living in a low density population, I don't have to be exposed to others in crowded areas. We have no plans for travel outside our area at this point, so I think my exposure to the virus is at a minimum. 

I'm also a bit leery of getting any vaccine at this point, in particular a newly released one with only clinical trials as its history. I'd probably feel differently if I were at a high risk of exposure to the virus, and/or had other comorbidities which put me at higher risk of either death or complications from the covid. 

I'd rather see those with high risk of exposure, or those who stand to have severe complications from or die from covid, such as health care personnel, first responders, frail older people or those with serious chronic illnesses get the first dibs on the vaccine. 

Count me in

by AgentX86 - 2020-11-13 23:31:54

I haven't changed my life much, at least after the first month or so, because of covid but I wouldn't hesitate to get the vaccine, either.  I'm not big on living my life under a bed.

Covid vaccine

by Gemita - 2020-11-14 07:24:30

Thank you Marybird and AgentX86.  At 72, I don’t expect to be top of the list to receive the vaccine if indeed it becomes available in the UK next month, but my husband at 82 with a number of serious health conditions, probably will be in the priority group.  

My main concern is about the immediate safety of the vaccine and how effective it would be against the virus in his age group and whether it could adversely affect other health conditions. 

My husband is definitely at risk of exposure to the virus since we live in a highly populated area and are within easy reach of London and he does like to go out occasionally for essential shopping/prescriptions (but always wearing a mask).  I would like him to get the vaccine if it is offered.

I believe a booster injection will be needed some few weeks afterwards for full immunity.

COVID vaccine

by Aberdeen - 2020-11-14 09:21:11

Gemita, I am apprehensive about the COVID vaccine but I would like to get it.As this pandemic continues I feel it gives us some hope for our future.

The risk/benefit ratio varies a lot

by crustyg - 2020-11-14 11:20:26

Hi Gemita: I think folk will vary a lot in their attitudes (and I'm not including the diehard anti-vaxxers here), because their risk of dying from Covid-19 is so variable.  It's pretty clear now that case fatality rates (CFR) are heavily controlled by underlying/pre-existing health conditions or treatments, with some ethnic and dietary factors.  It seems that if you are otherwise healthy (so just a simple PM for HB/SSS isn't ill), have a normal immune system, are not BAME, have normal VitD levels, and perhaps had BCG as a child, risk of death from Covid-19 is well under 1%, and not much more than that even if you're >80years of age.  Initial infective dose also appears to be a risk factor.  If you're in this group, you might well decide to wait until more experience has been gained with the Pfizer or any other vaccine.  One thing is sure, you're going to feel pretty miserable for about 24h after the Pfizer vaccination (not sure if that's both times).

HOWEVER, if you have long term kidney disease (not even needing dialysis), have a damaged immune system or are on immunosuppressants, lung disease (esp CF), significant heart disease, DM, are obese, are BAME or are likely to be exposed to a big dose of the SARS-CoV-2 virus then I suspect you'd be jumping up and down saying 'Pick me' for the vaccine.  And I would too.

*ALL* immunisations have had problems at some stage, or have had to be adjusted: in the UK we've replaced Sabin polio vaccine with Salk (not as good, but no vaccine-related polio cases, except when the manufacturer didn't heat-treat the virus corrrectly - decades ago), we've reformulated DTP to an accellular version, we've removed thiomersal from MMR (organo-mercury in a vaccine!!!), we've stopped routinely jabbing everyone with a deep cut with Tetanus vaccine - serum-sickness due to the horse antigens, and both times the USA has tried to mass immunise their armed forces against Swine 'flu they've seen cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome - not great if there are no ICU beds available, smallpox in eczema sufferers (even in the same household).  I could go on if I were a vaccine expert, but you get the picture.  AFAIK, *none* of the vaccines available in the West has complete virus in them (unlike Salk polio vaccine - heat inactivated).

And I haven't even got into the long-term protection, because no-one knows.  Yet.  And we won't ever know if everyone says No Thanks.

What I hope for is that folk who decline a 'jab' in the first wave won't be insulted or vilified, or mocked if they become ill.  And vice versa.  We should all be able to make an informed decision and left in peace whatever we choose.  One of the few bright spots of this pandemic is that we haven't seen the mega-death in Africa that was initially feared (although the biased broadcasting corporation's lack of coverage of the worst desert locust swarm in 50+years in E Africa won't stop the starvation), so much of the African population probably won't need or want a vaccine.  And if you know anything about Big Pharma and Africa (The Constant Gardener, ebola vaccine...) you'd appreciate that as a good thing.  Turns out that being young is by far the best defence against dying from Covid-19 - about 20% of the African population is <25years old.

When, as a front line health care worker, back in the day, we were offered the first, human-derived, Hep-B immunisation I accepted, even though we were informed that it had been made from pooled serum from New York gay men - and AIDS was a really big new thing then.  I had colleagues who declined...  Great vaccine, still have plenty of antibody against Hep-B.  No longer available, but gave life-long immunity, unlike the replacements.  Young and foolish?  The older you become the more real the thought of dying becomes and you know that risk is real - people really do die from flying aircraft on/off aircraft carriers, standing too close to cliff edges, tomb-stoning into the sea.  Being young comes with a built-in sense of immortality - and that's how it should be.

You did ask...

Aberdeen and crustyg

by Gemita - 2020-11-14 13:27:51

Aberdeen I agree COVID-19 is destroying lives and livelihoods and we have to try to do everything we can to eradicate it and give us back some hope.  It won't be easy but we have to start somewhere and finding a safe, effective vaccine is the first step.  I hope you stay safe and will be offered a vaccine when it is available.

crustyg yes indeed, I did ask and I am certainly not disappointed in the responses I have so far received from my Pacemaker Club friends.   I knew I could rely on you all to fill in the detail.  Certainly my husband would qualify for the vaccine on his health conditions alone, although as you say he will probably feel miserable immediately following vaccination. 

Yes the vaccine will be a work in progress but we will only learn and move forward by trying the new vaccines and by trial and error.  We are all essentially guinea pigs at this stage and I certainly get the picture that we still have much to learn about the benefits, risks, long term protection.  However, on balance I feel we have no choice but to move cautiously forward to trial the vaccines on offer for the benefit of us all.  We stand to lose far more if we do not act.

I hope that patients with underlying health conditions will be closely monitored for any adverse effects from any vaccine in the future.  This does worry me.

We still don’t know how soon this vaccine will enable us to return to a normal way of life and whether there will be enough affordable vaccine to treat the world effectively any time soon.  

I was wondering about those of us who feel we have had Coronavirus;  will we still need protection from a vaccine I wonder ?  Many questions still remain unanswered.

Vaccine again

by AgentX86 - 2020-11-14 13:54:57

Gemita, being 72, it seems you'd be in the first batch of people offered the immunization, at least under what's been discussed here.  People "at risk" have always been those over 65, serious diseases, surpressed immune systems, etc.  There are a many millions of doses available, from what I understand.  There are also other vaccines (plural) in the final phases of approval, which would add many more millions of doses.  There should be no problem supplying vaccine to everyone at high risk. 

The Pfizer vaccine has a reported efficacy of something like 90%, so other than the anti-vaxers, herd immunity should be in reach.  That's assuming the immunity lasts some time.  There is some question here.

There is always risk/benefit trade-offs to be made but part of the equation has to be the damage being done to lives, lifestyle, and the economy.  Nothing is risk free and all sides have to be taken into account, not just "cases".  By some numbers, more have been killed by the response than by the disease.  That's not a sane reaction.

Thanks AgentX86

by Gemita - 2020-11-14 15:51:29

I am fairly high up on the list for the vaccine too but because of the 40 million doses on order which then effectively only becomes 20 million patients treated because of the need for two doses, there won't be sufficient for all the over 65s in the first round when front line health care workers, care home patients, vulnerable and severely sick/over 80s have been treated.  

Hopefully we have other vaccines becoming available in the near future, but for the present Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, because of the need to keep the vaccine in ultra cold storage and the logistics of administering the vaccine, this will really challenge our health system.  For these reasons I am not hopeful that I will receive early protection


by PacedNRunning - 2020-11-15 03:50:42

I will not be getting the COVID vaccine.  Give it a couple years to find out it's efficacy and any side effects. 



Give it a couple of years ????

by IAN MC - 2020-11-15 12:11:03

If you expect a drug to have side-effects then it does !   This will certainly apply to the Covid vaccine .

Years ago when it was made compulsory for the pharmaceutical industry to include drug information leaflets, including side-effect info , with all prescription drugs ..guess what , the incidence of reported side-effects rocketed. If you know about side-effects, you imagine that you've got them !

In clinical trials it is well-known that a significant number of patients claim side-effects from taking a placebo ( a dummy pill with no active ingredients ) . This is known as the " Nocebo effect" and I suspect this will be a major factor in reducing the uptake of the Covid vaccine,

I forecast that the media will have a field day reporting alleged vaccine side-effects.

Won't it be sad if there are lots of grave-stones carrying the message  " I decided to wait 2 yrs before taking the vaccine " ....... ( not as sad as the  comedian, Spike Milligan though . His grave-stone says   " I told you I was ill "  )


Ian what will we write on our tombstones I wonder ?

by Gemita - 2020-11-15 12:47:27

Whenever I encourage my husband to try a new treatment he always reminds me of an Italian legend about Bertoldi who was well but wanted to be even safer.  On Bertoldi's tombstone was written:

Qui riposa Bertoldi

Che stava bene

e per stare meglio

si trova qui

"here rests Bertoldi, who was well, but wanted to feel even better, so finds himself here. . . ."

I thought you were joking about the "nocebo effect" but I see the word is in use!  Yes it is true Ian how easy it is to read the warnings and side effects of a given med and then to imagine we might get every possible symptom but to be quite honest if we took notice of some of the common side effects on information sheets, we wouldn't even swallow our pills 💊 would we?  Sometimes I would rather not know what could happen!! 


by AgentX86 - 2020-11-15 18:48:52

There are 50M doses of the Pfizer vaccine right now and there are expected to be another 1.3B doses made available in 2021.  Other manufacturers have promising vaccines right behind Pfizer, which will have similar quantities ready now and in production soon.  AIUI, some of the others don't have the onerous cold storage problems, though they should be well on their way to being solved as well.  The US government has invested big bux in getting the logistical processes wound up to warp speed.  This is something the military is very good at doing (it really is most of what they do).

Not Sure Which Vaccine I would Opt For

by heartu - 2020-11-18 17:51:17

From what I have read the covid-19 vaccines are not  dead/inactivated viruses. They are mRNA that when injected get your body to produce the antibodies that will fight and destroy the virus. A lot of cancer treatments use this typr of biologic to get your immune system to respond.

As far as I heard today, there are 3 promising vaccines. They are not being rushed. They are producing more vaccines for the next trial run before receiving FDA approval so they do not have to wait the extra months of production.

I would probably not opt for the Pfizer vaccine only because I would be concerned if the vaccine could be kept at such low temps to keep its integrity and effectivesness. 

Just keeping up with all the press releases to keep up to date on progress.

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