Are you reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine?

covid vaccine

Hello, and welcome to another Inside Lyme Podcast. I am your host Dr. Daniel Cameron. In this episode, I will be addressing concerns from Lyme disease patients regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

I have Lyme disease patients in my practice who are concerned about contracting COVID-19 and some who are reluctant to take the vaccine. This reluctance has been referred to as “vaccine hesitancy.” In the journal Quantitative Research, Quinn and colleagues wrote, “once a vaccine [for COVID-19] is available, many Americans may be hesitant about accepting it, particularly those in minority communities.” [1]

Lyme disease vaccine

In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a vaccine to prevent Lyme disease. The vaccine, LYMErix™,  was quite effective at preventing a Lyme disease rash (or Bull’s eye rash).  But the vaccine was not nearly as effective at preventing other manifestations of Lyme disease, according to the LYMErix™ package insert.

After receiving the vaccine, some Lyme disease patients developed autoimmune problems. And as a result, the manufacturer SmithKline Beecham pulled it off the market in 2002 due to poor sales. The manufacturer was unable to determine if the autoimmune issues reported by patients was, in fact, due to the vaccine.

While several companies are currently working on developing another Lyme disease vaccine, none seem to be researching a vaccine for other tick-borne illnesses. [2]

Vaccination hesitancy

There is, in particular, a low trust for the COVID-19 vaccine among Black Americans, wrote P.R. Lockhart in an NBC News article. “Many of them fear that the vaccines aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 will be harmful to Black Americans.” [3]

Furthermore, he adds, the medical system has mistreated Black Americans in the past, as well in the present. Lockhart cites the Tuskegee syphilis trial as an example.

“The reality is that their worries have been earned and will not be corrected until medicine and public health and the government reckon with the past and what has been done to Black and brown people,” Lockhart wrote.

Some vaccines, however, have been more readily embraced by the public. According to the authors, “Vaccines for cancer, Type II diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease were the most accepted by respondents.” [1]

Yet, vaccination hesitancy remains for a variety of other vaccines. “A recent national survey found that if a successful COVID-19 vaccine is produced and widely available, only 49% of Americans intend to get it; for Black adults, only 40% indicated they would take the vaccine while 32% indicated they were unsure,” wrote Quinn and colleagues.

Some of my Lyme disease patients have expressed concern that the COVID-19 vaccine may worsen their symptoms of Lyme disease.

I have seen vaccine hesitancy in my Lyme disease patients. They are concerned that the vaccine will be harmful and feel their concerns have been dismissed.

Risks vs. benefits of COVID-19 vaccine

The risks of developing persistent symptoms and serious complications from the covid-19 vaccine were discussed in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“As of January 3, 2021, a total of 20,346,372 cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and 349,246 associated deaths have been reported in the United States. Long-term sequelae of COVID-19 over the course of a lifetime currently are unknown; however, persistent symptoms and serious complications are being reported among COVID-19 survivors, including persons who initially experience a mild acute illness.” [4] 

The risk of COVID-19 to Lyme disease patients is not so clear.

The risks of a COVID-19 vaccination were also described in the same Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“During December 14–23, 2020, monitoring by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System detected 21 cases of anaphylaxis after administration of a reported 1,893,360 first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (11.1 cases per million doses); 71% of these occurred within 15 minutes of vaccination.” [4]

The risks of the COVID-19 vaccination to Lyme disease patients is not so clear.

To take or not to take the COVID-19 vaccine

The severity of COVID-19 for some individuals is forcing my Lyme disease patients to make a decision.  Are you reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

The following questions are addressed in the podcast:

  1. Have you had any Lyme disease patients who have been sick with COVID-19?
  2. What were your Lyme disease patients concerns about COVID-19?
  3. What were your Lyme disease patients concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine?
  4. What is vaccine hesitancy?
  5. Have you seen any other vaccine hesitancy, e.g., Lyme disease vaccine?
  6. Did any of your Lyme disease patients take the Lyme disease vaccine?
  7. How effective was the Lyme disease vaccine?
  8. Why was the Lyme disease vaccine discontinued?
  9. Have you seen COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among your Lyme disease patients?
  10. What are your Lyme disease patients considering the COVID-19 concerns?
  11. Have any of your Lyme disease patients tolerated the COVID-19 vaccine?
  12. What are the risks of COVID-19?
  13. What are the risks of other complications of COVID-19 e.g., “long haulers”
  14. What are the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine?
  15. What are the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine?
  16. How is one to decide whether to take the vaccine?

Thanks for listening to another Inside Lyme Podcast. You can read more about these cases in my show notes and on my website As always, it is your likes, comments, reviews, and shares that help spread the word about Lyme disease. Until next time on Inside Lyme.

Please remember that the advice given is general and not intended as specific advice as to any particular patient. If you require specific advice, then please seek that advice from an experienced professional.

Inside Lyme Podcast Series

This Inside Lyme case series will be discussed on my Facebook and made available on podcast and YouTube.  As always, it is your likes, comments, and shares that help spread the word about this series and our work. If you can, please leave a review on iTunes or wherever else you get your podcasts.

  1. Quinn SC, Lama Y, Jamison A, Freimuth V, Shah V. Willingness of Black and White Adults to Accept Vaccines in Development: An Exploratory Study Using National Survey Data. Am J Health Promot. Dec 28 2020:890117120979918. doi:10.1177/0890117120979918
  2. Researchers race to develop Lyme vaccine. Inside Lyme Blog by Dr. Daniel Cameron Last accessed 1/9/21.
  3. Experts warn of low Covid vaccine trust among Black Americans by P.R. Lockhart in NBC News. Last accessed 12/12/20
  4. Allergic Reactions Including Anaphylaxis After Receipt of the First Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, December 14–23, 2020. from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last accessed 1/9/21.

16 Replies to "Are you reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine?"

  • Dori D.
    02/11/2021 (12:00 am)

    Hi Dr. Cameron,

    I am an RN and a Lyme disease ‘victim’. I just had the first of two Pfizer Covid 19 this past Monday, 2 days ago. On the ride home, I felt the first symptoms of what I consider Lyme disease symptoms, as they were the same symptoms I experienced when taking antibiotics. I can only explain the feeling as my body fighting itself: pain in the joints, especially my upper spine and hands. The next evening, the pain in the arm where the vaccine was administered was rather extreme, especially down to my hand. The discomfort moved to my knees and ankles. I took a pain reliever and went to bed feeling much better today.

    My daughter, who also had a severe case of Lyme disease over 30 years ago and was hospitalized for 10 days on IV antibiotic therapy also became rather ill, but not debilitatingly so. Her biggest complaint was a headache, as well as achiness and nausea. Curious, as the deer tick was removed from behind her ear all those years ago.

    I never considered that the Lyme disease may have an adverse effect with the vaccine until my experience, because I have been taking many supplements to strengthen my immune system at the advice of my specialist and have been doing pretty well. The symptoms I experienced led me to this site in search of a connection.

    In my search, also came across an article: ‘Amid Covid-19 hunt, Pfizer adds Lyme disease vaccine in $308M deal with Valneva’. I am not sure what the connection is, if any, nonetheless I am very curious as to what that might mean. I wonder, Dr. Cameron, if you have any thoughts on the article and why Pfizer was inclined to include the Lyme disease vaccine in the deal with Vaneva.

    I think you are correct in that the vaccine outweighs the little known long term effects of contracting Covid-19. I believe I had Covid last March, and was pretty sick, but not hospitalized. The cough lasted for about 8-9 weeks, although I tested negative 3 weeks into the illness.

    As a side note, my brother, who suffers from Dystonia also had the vaccine administered on Monday as well. He had the Hong Kong flu when he was about 10 years old and was very sick. My mother, who is also a nurse, suspects that that disease triggered the Dystonia. Apart from experiencing some mild pain at the injection site, he is absolutely fine.

  • Nila
    01/18/2021 (5:54 am)


    This is something I’ve discussed with the herbalist who saved me. I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this. In looking at some of the effects vaccines have had on people, like the Gardisol vaccine and vaccine given for “Swine flu” in the 1970s, I have some major concerns. With the latter vaccine, I saw one previously healthy vice-principal develop GBS after taking that vaccine. The “roll up your sleeve campaign” really reminds me of today’s world with the exception of that many more have reportedly been affected by the current COVID virus, and by that, I mean in a bad way. At the same time, many patients appear to recover and haven’t reported long-term effects. With the HPV vaccine, referenced above, I read about a case of a girl passing after getting that. Upon looking in at the “Vaccine Court,” her mom was awarded damages. From what I recall, there was an autoimmune reaction in the brain. I’d have to review the information again.

    I was always a believer in vaccines, because I grew up in a family with a father who taught nurses and doctors, but my experience is that my body might have done worse due to vaccines and how would we ever know.

    To me, COVID is like all of these other strong and disabling infections and co-infections. I have to ask myself why I should trust a vaccine that appears to have been rushed when the US gov’t, most of the medical establishment, and world health authorities barely take “Lyme” diseases seriously. If I get ill from this vaccine, how will I know? It might not show for years, decades, or I could perish right away. Who will care for me if I develop issues from said vaccine? I’m very concerned about my infections as it is, and having what has been termed autoimmune disease, I think a vaccine could be riskier for those of us who have autoimmune diagnoses and/or infectious disease diagnoses. I’d like to see a focus on prevention. I mean herbs, supplements, and other treatments. Couple that with sanitation, it seems like the same life I’ve been living for a long while.

    As a side note, I had Coxsackie B viruses, the Lyme virus, Q fever, and all activated infections from 2018 to present. For the better part of 2 years, I had crippling encephalitis, inability to leave my home due to breathing issues and sweats/chills, and pain from all of the vesicles. On top of that, I had some strange heart pains. The only provider that cared and helped was my herbalist. Why is it that we don’t have a focus on these serious infections, which can and are life-threatening. The effects are long-term also.

    Again, I appreciate the discussion, but I’m worried that the risk might outweigh the benefit for many. We don’t know enough about how this will affect ill people or well people. Not really.

  • Lauren
    01/16/2021 (11:51 am)

    What I have learned is This RNA vaccine is not actually a vaccine but gene therapy. It is an experiment and you are part of the clinical trial if you take the vaccine. Also, there are early treatments for Covid that work such as Ivermectin, which NIH just miraculously said Drs can now use to treat, HCQ, and Pepsid AC.

  • Jan Dooley
    01/16/2021 (8:44 am)

    Thank you, I have been wondering what to do. I got 5 tick-borne infections in 1995 in Ma when I took up golf. It took 12 years to get a positive. I had a stroke and spinal damage with neuropathy in both legs from the sacrum down. i have spent many thousands of dollars to stay alive. I am 77 years old and have a lot to live for as I have many friends with Lyme disease that I help daily.You have helped me decide to wait to see the outcome in others. I got my neuropathy in 2005 when I got a pneumonia and flu shot on the same day.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/16/2021 (10:28 am)

      Great comment. I have concerns with vaccines. I wrote the blog to reflect my patients reluctance to take the COVID-19 vaccine. I find the risk of COVID-19 is worse that the risk of the COVID-19 vaccine based on my review of the evidence we have as of January 14, 2021. Others will reach their own conclusion.

    • maxine
      03/02/2021 (4:41 pm)

      That was very helpful to hear. I have had tick bites most of my life but did not have any symptoms until I got rock mountain spottedl fever from a tick in my yard in Atlanta GA when I was 63 years old. I went from exceptional health to very poor health struggling everyday to keep going. I too have many chronic lymes friends and we help each other through our bad days and celebrate the good ones.

  • Karen
    01/15/2021 (5:24 am)

    Advised numerous times not to take flu vaccine.
    This back when was fixed with FM other illnesses.
    Would think same applies for covid. Told broken immune systems can’t tolerate due to complication of flu vaccines. Normal do not take flu 💉.
    Some my docs say 👍others👎. What to do?
    I am on hydroxychloraquin for my late stage chronic Lyme & Babesiosis.
    Am Lyme advocate for years. Research & working with groups & Lyme community for years.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/15/2021 (7:59 am)

      I understand your doctor’s reluctance to take the vaccine. The risk of COVID-19 is high enough to consider the vaccine despite how frustrated the Lyme disease community has been with doctors and the CDC.

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