Stock vaccine

Hi Monica,

I have several questions regarding the vaccine for COVID-19 pertaining to my particular immune system.

I have never had any of the childhood diseases. No mumps, measles, chickenpox, colds or the flu. The last time I had a vaccine I was about 10, it was a tetanus shot. I’m 60 now. I do have a T4 thyroid problem, though not auto-immune and chronic dryness in my head like dry eyes, sinuses, ears and throat. I also have a “back wash” issue with the veins in my legs.

Will I be susceptible to the ailments that I’ve never had? Since I haven’t had a vaccine in a long time, will I be hit harder by some of the side effects? Will I have to be extra careful of blood clots? Does my thyroid put me at risk against getting the vaccine?

I’ll do my best to answer some of your questions, but you really need to talk to a medical specialist about your specific concerns.

No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not expose you to other childhood diseases you were vaccinated against as a child. The vaccine is only “teaching” your immune system to recognize only the COVID-19 virus and neutralize it if you become infected.

The side effects impact people differently. Some experience none, some have slight flu-like symptoms that last for a day or two. Most people have a sore arm after both shots and often the side effects show up after the second dose. The side effects are usually minor and go away in a couple of days. The side effects are also a good thing because it signals your body is mounting an immune defense.

Sometimes people may experience lymph node swelling under their arm or by their armpit. This will go away in a few days up to a couple of weeks. If it lasts a month or more, see your doctor. It’s recommended that you plan ahead and schedule your vaccine at a time when you can take a couple of days off afterward to rest. Many people experience fatigue after the vaccines, too.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention you should contact your doctor if the redness or tenderness where you received the shot gets worse after 24 hours. Or if your side effects are worrying you and/or do not seem to be going away after a few days.

According to the CDC, there is a plausible causal relationship between Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and a rare and serious adverse event – blood clots with low platelets (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS). It occurs at a rate of about 7 per 1 million vaccinated women between 18 and 49 years old. For women 50 years and older and men of all ages, this adverse event is even more rare.

According to the American Thyroid Association, people with thyroid conditions, including autoimmune thyroid disease and thyroid cancer, should receive the COVID-19 vaccine if they are medically stable. If you have a history of allergic reactions, you should be aware of special precautions that might be needed. The vaccines in current use have been tested in clinical trials and some participants had thyroid conditions. Currently there is no evidence that having thyroid disease puts you at higher risk for vaccine-related problems.

Best advice though is to talk with your doctor about your concerns.


Monica Robins is the Senior Health Correspondent at 3News. The information provided in this column is for educational and informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this column or on our website.

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