Saturday, December 12, 2020

The Vaccination Controversy, Part 3: COVID-19

As of this week, the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for emergency use in several countries and is already being administered in the UK. It will likely be approved in a growing number of countries in the coming weeks with other vaccines soon to follow. As these vaccines become available, anyone who is fortunate enough to have a choice about whether or not to be vaccinated is going to have to make a potentially difficult decision, depending on where they stand with regard to this issue.

I have already done my best to provide a broad summary of what is known and not known about vaccinations in general, and COVID-19 in particular. I am going to very briefly summarize some of that here. However, I strongly recommend that you read the more detailed analyses in The Vaccination Controversy, Part 1 of 3 and Part 2 of 3, Living With Viruses and Viral Pandemics, and COVID-19: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The detailed background information that I provided in those posts is necessary to be able to understand why I am making the recommendations that I am going to provide here.

Our knowledge base about the long-term safety of vaccines in general is relatively weak; about COVID-19 is very weak; and about the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in particular is extremely weak. Let's leave aside the unsubstantiated and often extreme opinions that are out there and focus on the recommendations of medical professionals. Although often well-meaning, most of what is out there in the medical literature and practice is based on a narrow world view, and is very influenced by corporate interests. Add to this very real political and economic concerns as a result of this pandemic and what we have is a muddy picture with some data and a lot of (often contradictory) guesses and opinions. If we add in the various extreme opinions and conspiracies that are out there, it gets even more messy. Fortunately, with a bit of logic and common sense it is usually fairly easy to identify what is mostly or completely nonsense—unless we have some conscious or unconscious need to believe them. Nevertheless, for those of us who are trying to make the best choices in navigating this pandemic it can be very challenging. There are no clear choices or outcomes. 

With regard to COVID-19 vaccinations, these are my concerns (see my other posts for detailed explanations):

1. It is most likely that the degree to which vaccines are being utilized these days is one among many factors that is contributing to the growing incidence of chronic inflammatory and auto-immune conditions, and that they are affecting many people at an earlier age than was typical in the past.

2. No successful vaccine has ever been developed for a coronavirus. There is a strong possibility that any benefits that result from mass vaccination programs for COVID-19 will be temporary. Like the common cold, in the coming years this virus may continue to cycle through populations in mutated forms for which very few people have long-term immunity.

3. Due to the emergency nature of this pandemic, vaccines are and will continue to be approved without adequate long-term safety studies.

4. The majority of the vaccines that are being developed are based on novel technologies which either have never been used before (mRNA, DNA), or which have been used very minimally or not at all (genetically engineered viral vector vaccines). Essentially, pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of this global emergency and the billions of dollars in government hand-outs that are available in order to conduct a massive experiment on a significant proportion of the global population. Vaccines based on new technologies should require even more research on their long-term safety, not less as is currently the case.

In the last few days the UK has begun administering the Pfizer mRNA vaccine and it has already become apparent that people who have a history of severe anaphylactic allergic reactions may have similar reactions triggered by this vaccine. This was not identified in the clinical studies on the vaccine because people who have these kinds of reactions were excluded from the studies. For me this is already a red flag. If this kind of vaccine can produce an immediate extreme reaction in people who suffer from a significant immune system imbalance of this nature, it is possibly evidence that the vaccine has a negative affect on the functioning of our immune system in general. This is my primary concern with this kind of vaccine. These people might be just the tip of the iceberg. It is possible that the vaccine will negatively affect immune function in a much larger proportion of people but the affect will be chronic and difficult to recognize. Unfortunately, most of the more traditional protein-based, or inactivated or attenuated virus vaccines are not as far along in their research and will not be available for some time. By that time hundreds of millions of people will have already received the more novel vaccines. Hopefully, any negative consequences of using these vaccines will be minimal.

On a positive note, there is already some evidence that people who have been exposed to other coronaviruses (such as some cold viruses) within a few months of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus may have a degree of increased resistance to the latter virus resulting in milder symptoms. Similarly, although there is evidence that some people who have contracted the COVID-19 virus do not have full immunity and may still get sick again upon subsequent exposure, they are also likely to have milder symptoms. This is consistent with other coronaviruses. Although exposure does not result in complete long-term immunity, it does seem to provide a degree of protection so that the symptoms are milder when someone contracts the virus in the future. This means that, as a growing proportion of the population is exposed to COVID-19 either by natural means or as a result of vaccinations, there is a possibility that over time this illness will become less severe and it may eventually be no more serious than a seasonal cold virus. With other viruses, natural exposure almost always results in greater immunity than immunity resulting from vaccinations. Nevertheless, even if they don't provide permanent immunity, the mass vaccination programs that are being implemented in combination with natural exposure may take the edge off the pandemic and accelerate the transformation of the COVID-19 virus into a less severe pathogen. This is the most likely best case scenario of mass vaccination.

Vaccinations might only temporarily help to control the pandemic or they may be an important part of a long-term
solution. We need to make decisions now, but it will probably be years before we know if we made the best ones. 

In the end, it is possible that the risks are low and there will be some or even significant benefits of vaccinations. It is also possible that the risks outweigh any potential benefits. Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure at this time and it may be years or even decades before we finally have a good sense of this—but we don't have years! We are in the midst of a global crisis that not only affects our physical and (for many people) psychological well-being, it affects our families and communities and there are significant economic and political repercussions that will get worse the longer the pandemic continues. It is a situation that requires extreme measures and some risks. Individually and collectively we need to make some very difficult decisions for which there are no clear answers.

The decision is a personal one. No one can give anyone else a clear recommendation. We also have to keep in mind that it is not just about our personal needs and beliefs. Whatever decision we make will have consequences for other people. My recommendation is that we need to do your best to look at the information that is available in a balanced way, then put it out of our mind and sit quietly and feel into the situation. Ultimately, this is a heart decision. If we are truly honest and objective we have to admit that we will never get a clear answer through logical analysis. Nevertheless, it is important that we are well-informed without becoming obsessive about it.

We also need to do our best to avoid making a decision based on fear. There are a lot of layers of fear out there: fear of the virus itself and its potential health consequences for ourselves, families and friends; fear of the potential negative health affects of vaccines, especially vaccines based on new inadequately tested technologies; fear that powerful institutions (governments, corporations, etc.) are using the pandemic (or have even orchestrated the pandemic!) in order to deprive people of their rights and freedoms. Of course, for many people there is also the fear of making the wrong decision.

It is best if we are aware of our fear and keep it out of our decision making process as much as possible; to review what is known about the potential risks of each decision and feel into what is right for us. Remember that there is no clear right or wrong answer. There simply isn't enough information. We'll know more in the coming years but we have to make a decision now. Ultimately, even if we had a lot more information we can never know for sure how each decision is going to play out in our life. Statistics are meaningless when it comes to individual real life situations. I can never know with certainty if I am one of the ones who is going experience severe symptoms from either the virus or a vaccine.

In the end, if we are concerned about the well-being of ourselves, loved ones and communities, and want to dance with this pandemic in a good way, it is my belief that we basically have three realistic choices:

1. Not get vaccinated; support our overall and immune health to reduce the likelihood of getting the virus or the severity of our symptoms if we do get it; practice safe behavior.

2. Wait at least a few months until there is more safety and efficacy data for the various vaccines and then decide whether or not to get vaccinated; support our overall and immune health to reduce the likelihood of getting the virus or the severity of our symptoms if we do get it; practice safe behavior.

3. Get vaccinated; address our overall and immune health to reduce any potential negative short- or long-term affects of the vaccine; practice safe behavior.

With all of that in mind, let's look at these three options in more detail:

Option 1: Not Getting Vaccinated

If you choose not to get vaccinated I have already provided a lot of information about what can be done to protect yourself as much as possible. Pay attention to public health recommendations about indoor and outdoor gatherings. Practice social distancing. Where a cloth mask when indoors in public spaces. Eat a healthy diet and get lots of exercise. Use herbs, supplements and probiotics wisely in order to improve your overall health and more specifically your immune health. The more we make healthy living a priority in our lives, the healthier and safer we will be.

With regard to herbs and supplements, I have already provided lots of in depth information in Living With Viruses and Viral Pandemics, including links to additional written materials and video lectures. If you follow those recommendations for boosting your immune system and preventing illness, and what to do if you get sick, you will maximize your level of protection. The herbal protocols that I have provided will reduce the likelihood that you will get sick, reduce the severity of your symptoms if you do, and increase your potential long-term immunity to COVID-19 if you are exposed to it.

Option 2: Wait and See 

If you aren't sure yet you might consider waiting a bit to see how things play out. For most of us this is also an option. It is likely that within a few months there will be more information available and it might be enough to make a more clear decision. In particular, we hope that there will be clearer information regarding the safety of these new vaccines and whether or not they provide a reasonable amount of immunity. Realistically, it could easily be 3-6 months before we have sufficient information. However, most governments are targeting higher risk groups first and predicting that vaccines probably won't start being administered to the general population until March or April. Once that begins, it is likely that the majority of the population won't be vaccinated until some time next fall. Clearly, waiting until May or June to make a final decision is a completely reasonable option for many of us. Another advantage of waiting is that by that time one or more of the vaccines that have been developed using well-established technologies will be available, although how available or whether we actually have any choice regarding which vaccine we receive is yet to be seen.

If you decide to wait a bit before making a final decision, then it is best to follow the recommendations that I provided for Option 1 (above) until you decide. If, in the end, you decide not to vaccinate, continue following those protocols. However, if you do decide at some point to get vaccinated, then you'll it's best to switch to the protocols for Option 3 (below).

Option 3: Get Vaccinated 

If you are certain that you want to get vaccinated, I still recommend that you wait a bit, if that is an option for you. Since the Pfizer vaccine is already getting approval in some countries and the Moderna vaccine will likely start rolling out in a couple of weeks as well, this means that two of the mRNA vaccines—the newest and least tested type of vaccine—are going to be out there first and we will be able to see if there are any short-term issues that arise from their use. Unfortunately, for many people—such as health care workers—there may not be any choice. If you don't have an option or you choose to get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available to you, I recommend that you follow these protocols to reduce the likelihood of side-effects from the vaccination.

Until you are able to receive the vaccine, follow the protocols that I provided for Option 1 (above). Then it will be necessary to follow a much more specific protocol in order to help reduce any potential short- or long-term negative side-effects of the vaccine. These protocols may also increase the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Begin by pulsing an immune stimulant formula (see the video Immune Support and the Natural Treatment of Colds and Flu and the article Surviving and Thriving in a World Full of Viruses). I recommend taking it for one week followed by a one week break. Pulse the immune stimulant formula six times (i.e. take it six times for a period of one week with a one week break in between). You need to time this so that the day that you get vaccinated occurs at the beginning of the third week that you are taking the immune stimulant formula on the second or third day that you are taking it. This is the standard protocol for using an immune stimulant formula for a vaccine which is administered as a single dose. Most of the COVID-19 vaccines require two doses administered 21 to 28 days apart. Under these circumstances it is necessary to pulse an immune stimulant formula for a longer period of time. It is important that both vaccinations occur on the second or third day of one of the weeks when you are taking the immune stimulant formula, and that you pulse the formula two times before the first vaccination and three times after the second vaccination. This means that for double dose vaccines it will be necessary to pulse the immune stimulant formula seven or eight times, depending on the vaccination schedule.

After the last time that you pulse the immune stimulant formula, take a one week break and then begin taking an immune tonic formula. Take this formula continuously for two to three months.

Take a good quality probiotic on the weeks in between pulsing an immune stimulant formula and between switching from an immune stimulant formula to an immune tonic formula. For more information on probiotics and the best way to take them see the article Surviving and Thriving in a World Full of Viruses.

During the entire time that you are pulsing an immune stimulant formula (including on the off weeks) also take 500-1,000 mg of a mineral ascorbate (non-acidic vitamin C) that includes a good polyphenol complex (quercetin, rutin, flavonoids, anthocyanins, etc.); 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D3; and 15-25 mg of zinc. Take all of them twice per day with your breakfast and dinner. A low potency multivitamin and mineral taken once per day is a good idea as well. When you switch to an immune tonic formula, reduce the dose of the supplements by half (except the multivitamin). It is not necessary to continue taking these afterwards unless they are part of your regular regimen, but it still might be a good idea. 

Easter white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is one of the most important medicines of the First Nations Peoples
of Northeastern North America. In homeopathic potencies it helps to prevent the side-effects of vaccinations.

There are also two homeopathic remedies that I strongly recommend. If you are concerned about the bad press that homeopathy has been getting in the last few years, read my post Homeopathy Under Attack. The first one is Ledum palustre (Labrador tea). This is a remedy for puncture wounds. Take a dose of the 200C or 200CH potency immediately before getting vaccinated and immediately after. Then take a third dose a few hours later. This will help to reduce the pain and swelling around the injection site. I also recommend applying a good herbal ointment to the injection site several times per day as long as any pain, swelling or inflammation persists. Both the Ledum and the ointment will need to be repeated for the second vaccination, where applicable.

The second homeopathic remedy that I recommend is Thuja occidentalis (eastern white cedar). This remedy helps to reduce the acute and chronic side-effects of vaccinations. Once more, use the 200C or 200CH potency. Take the first dose about 24 hours before you get vaccinated. Take another dose about an hour before your vaccination, and then again about an hour afterwards. Take it two more times on that day (four times in total on the day that you are vaccinated). Then take it once per day for a week, and then once per week for three more weeks. For vaccines that require two doses, follow these protocols for the first vaccination and then repeat them for the second dose.

Homeopathic remedies are usually available in the form of pellets. Take the recommended number of pellets per dose for the product. It is best to allow them to dissolve slowly under your tongue and not consume anything other than water for at least 30 minutes before and 15 minutes after the dose.

Keep in mind that there are no guarantees. Following these protocols will not guarantee that you don't get COVID-19. If you do get the virus, you will experience less severe symptoms—but that doesn't mean that you won't get severe symptoms. It means that they will be less severe than they would have been if you hadn't been following these protocols. Similarly, if you follow these protocols and you get vaccinated, you will experience less and milder side-effects as a result of the vaccination, but that doesn't mean that you will not experience any side-effects. Some people won't but others will—and they might be relatively severe. Regardless, you can be sure that they will be less severe than they would have been if you had not been following these protocols. The bottom line is that everyone's situation is unique and we can't predict outcomes with certainty.

The concerns that I have expressed are very real. Nevertheless, we are dealing with an urgent crisis that requires extreme measures. Many people have and will become sick, some of them seriously, and many people have died as a result of this virus. Many people are also experiencing a lot of stress due to the pandemic, the restrictions and for some a reduction or loss of their source of livelihood. There are also people who are out there every day—from health care workers to cashiers—putting their health at risk in order to serve others. My gratitude and prayers go out to all of them. In spite of my concerns, I hope that in the end any negative results of vaccinations are minimal and that they do help to bring this pandemic under control.

COVID-19 is a wake-up call. For those of us who are listening and heed the call, it is a reminder of the importance of prioritizing our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being; of living in good relationship with ourselves, families, communities and the Living World. In many ways it will be a different world when we get through this. Let's hope that it's a better one!

Due to the immediate concerns regarding the COVID-19 vaccines, I have interjected this into this series of posts on vaccinations. The series will now consist of four posts. The last one (which is half done) will address childhood vaccinations. I will also continue to provide updates on the pandemic in additional posts, if necessary.

Keep well!


  1. Thanks Michael! Lots of great information.

  2. Hi Michael, it is my understanding that immune stimulation can lead to more severe symptoms in the case of an auto immune response. So, can you explain why you recommend the immune stimulation formula for prevention of harmful vaccine reactions which are typically auto immune and can lead to anaphylaxis and sudden death?

    1. The problem is the term 'immune stimulant' because this term isn't very accurate. Some herbs are classified as immune stimulants because when they are used they ramp up the aggressiveness of an immune response if the person is fighting an active infection or is exposed to an infectious organism within a short period of time after using the herbs. So, in this respect the term is somewhat accurate. However, when someone who is coming from a reductionistic medical model—and that means most people because we are all indoctrinated into this model to some degree—they will tend to interpret the term in an over-simplistic linear way. Most of the actions of herbs are very complex and not linear. Immune stimulants don't just indiscriminately increase the activity of immune cells. They support a more robust immune response that is appropriate in the situation. An autoimmune response is not an appropriate immune response. In general, the only time that the action of immune stimulant herbs is problematic is for people who have organ transplants because attacking a transplanted organ IS a correct immune response.
      The correct term for immune stimulant herbs is 'short-term immunomodulators'. These herbs modulate the immune response, they don't just stimulate it unless ramping up the immune response is what is appropriate in the moment. These herbs are contrasted with long-term immunomodulators. These are herbs which also modulate the immune system, but the affect takes longer and also lasts longer. These herbs are more commonly called 'immune tonics'. The difference is that one group of herbs acts very quickly but the affect doesn't last very long—thus the appearance of 'stimulation'—and the other group has to be used over a period of months for the full affect, but it lasts a lot longer once the herbs are discontinued. The terms 'short-term immunomodulator' and 'long-term immunomodulator' more correctly convey what these herbs do, but the terms are also more cumbersome and by convention the terms 'immune stimulant' and 'immune tonic' are more popular. This isn't a problem when experienced herbalists or people who have a decent understanding of herbalism are communicating with one another, but it is problematic in the general literature because people who write about these things who really don't know what they are talking about often interpret the term literally and propagate a lot of misinformation about them.
      You won't find any of that kind of information here. I have been practicing since 1986 and teaching since 1987. I don't write about anything that I haven't worked with and experienced consistently. If I am making an educated guess about something such as COVID-19—for which there are a lot of unknowns—I will state that explicitly and not present it as 'fact'.
      There is a lot more information on immune stimulants and immune tonics in my video lecture 'Immune Support & the Natural Treatment of Colds & Flu'. I can't do formatting or insert links in these replies, but you can access the lecture here:

  3. Thanks for all the herbal recommendations!
    This site has the ingredient list - click on the vaccine name - for people concerned about allergies or interested in specific differences.

  4. Thanks for that! In terms of ingredients, I have written a fair bit about why I am concerned about mRNA vaccines. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines (both mRNA vaccines) also contain some other ingredients of concern, including lipid nanoparticles. We know that nanoparticles behave in strange ways chemically and biologically and they accumulate in plants and animals. We have no idea what they do in our body. So, these vaccines are unknowns in two major ways. The AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines are not mRNA based and have no nanoparticles. They do contain some dubious ingredients, but less than most vaccines. I also like that they use ethanol rather than polyethylene glycol or propylene glycol like many other vaccines. So, I feel that the latter two of the four that have been approved so far are probably safer options. That being said, there have been some concerns lately regarding potential side-effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine. It has yet to be determined if there is a genuine causal connection. Even if there is, it may be very low and the benefits outweigh the risks. It's difficult to say and we'll have to see what we learn in the coming weeks as more people receive the vaccine. Janssen also has the advantage of only requiring a single dose. There are always going to be risks of extreme acute reactions from a vaccine and it is almost impossible to know who is going to get them. This is a standard concern with all vaccines. However, as I have written, my biggest concern here is the potential for long-term chronic problems. This is something that we won't be able to see for years and we'll probably never know the full extent of it because it is much more difficult to see a clear causal connection with chronic complications. It will also be very difficult to get good information because the media and most people in general are too polarized on this issue. Those who support vaccinations will tend to downplay or deny the connections, and those who are against vaccinations will tend to exaggerate them or in some cases see connections that aren't really there. We also have to keep in mind that some people are getting what appears to be chronic complications from being infected with the virus. Only time will tell how serious they are and how long they persist. There is a possibility that chronic complications of the infection could be similar to or worse than those of the vaccines. The moral is, life is infinitely complex and we will never be able to fully comprehend it. All we can do is learn to dance with the Mystery as best we can!