Should Lyme disease patients with an impaired immune system get the COVID-19 vaccine?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posted mRNA COVID-19 vaccination considerations for people who have a weakened immune system. “People with HIV and those with weakened immune systems due to other illnesses or medication might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19.” [1] Individuals with Lyme disease, who may have a weakened immune system, have expressed concern over the vaccine.


People can have an impaired immune system from an overactive and underactive immune response. “A strong immune system responds appropriately to the challenge; a weak immune system may over-respond or under-respond,” explains Kostoff and colleagues in the journal International Journal of Molecular Medicine. [2]

They added, “A weakened immune system appears to be the main determinant of serious/fatal reaction to viral infection (for COVID-19, SARS, and influenza alike).”

Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are examples of an over-response of the immune system. Lyme disease is another example of an overactive immune response. [3]

The CDC report touched on the risk to individuals with a weakened immune system in developing a severe COVID-19 infection. [1] It acknowledges that there is limited safety data on the use of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination in individuals with an impaired immune system. “Information about the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for people who have weakened immune systems in this group is not yet available.”

The report pointed out that, “People with weakened immune systems should also be aware of the potential for reduced immune responses to the vaccine, as well as the need to continue following all current guidance to protect themselves against COVID-19.”

The CDC guidance report was issued to allow individuals with a weakened immune system to make “an informed decision about receiving the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.”

The authors point out that there is little information above the vaccine’s impact on individuals with autoimmune conditions. “They should be aware that no data are currently available on the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for them.” Nevertheless, the authors advised treatment.

Editor’s note: It is clear that COVID-19 can be severe for some individuals. There is a paucity of information on the risks and benefits of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination for Lyme disease patients. The risk of COVID-19 is far greater than the risks of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. I have been advising my patients to take the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination based on a review of the risks and benefits.

  1. Vaccination Considerations for Persons with Underlying Medical Conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Last accessed 12/31/20.
  2. Kostoff RN, Briggs MB, Porter AL, Aschner M, Spandidos DA, Tsatsakis A. [Editorial] COVID19: Postlockdown guidelines. Int J Mol Med. Aug 2020;46(2):463-466. doi:10.3892/ijmm.2020.4640
  3. Aucott JN, Soloski MJ, Rebman AW, et al. CCL19 as a Chemokine Risk Factor for Posttreatment Lyme Disease Syndrome: a Prospective Clinical Cohort Study. Clin Vaccine Immunol. Sep 2016;23(9):757-66. doi:10.1128/CVI.00071-16
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29 Replies to "Should Lyme disease patients with an impaired immune system get the COVID-19 vaccine?"

  • Whitney A Hakim
    02/15/2021 (8:43 am)

    Is it generally safe for someone being treated for co-infections to receive the vaccine? I am scheduled for March 6th and currently on Doxy, Fluconazole and Cefuromine…as well as Samento, Houttuynia and Cryptolepis. My co-infection symptoms are stable and I have shown marked improvement.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      02/15/2021 (2:03 pm)

      My patients are torn with the risk of the vaccine vs risk of COVID-19.  My patients have tolerated the vaccine. I have a few readers who write that they have had a flare-up. Most of my patients take the vaccine after weighing the risks and the benefits.

  • John
    01/29/2021 (3:42 pm)

    I’m in the wait and see mode. My coworkers aunt got the vaccine over a month ago and then got Covid-19.She died a few days later

  • Anthony
    01/20/2021 (10:36 am)

    On Saturday, I just received the Moderna vaccine and so far have had no reaction. I live in a congregate setting. We currently have a severe cluster outbreak of COVID-19 in the very building where I live. Seeing COVID-19 first-hand motivated me to get the vaccine despite the risks. I have also been supplementing with Vitamin C, D3, Zinc, herbals, teas, and am taking antibiotics for Lyme. My chronic Lyme Disease symptoms mimics COVID-19 symptoms. The only way to know is to get tested. The vaccine is not for everyone, but it maybe for some with chronic Lyme Disease. My decision was based on the greater risk of contracting COVID-19 with Lyme Disease vs the risk of receiving a vaccine which could help protect me against COVID-19. Each person needs to decide for him/herself what is best for them.

  • Chaya Ish-Shalom
    01/20/2021 (1:34 am)

    After battling Lyme for ten years under your care I’ve been symptom free for five years now. Based on the good doctor’s suggestion that the danger from contracting covid 19 seemed to be far greater than any risk there might be from the vaccine, I decided to take it – I had my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine last week, no side effects, no reactions – so far so good

  • Alicia
    01/18/2021 (10:52 pm)

    I completely disagree for the following reasons:

    1. COVID-19 shows no greater mortality rate than the seasonal flu (which the CDC conveniently quit counting). If you are not over 70 years of age, you have less of a chance of dying from COVID than from influenza.
    2. Speaking influenza, every single Lyme/MSIDS patient I’ve worked with has had a relapse of symptoms after the flu vaccine. This shows you have a 36% greater chance of getting COVID if you get a flu vaccine:
    3. There are effective treatments for COVID-19 (HCQ, zinc, Ivermectin, IV vitamin C, among others). Please see: Dr. Kory blows the NIH statement against Ivermectin out of the water with science. It even works prophylactically.
    3. There are NO completed clinical trials of this experimental medical device (it isn’t a vaccine at all, it is mRNA packaged in a fat envelope, that is delivered to a cell that does not stop transmission but is a treatment). When you get the jab, you are effectively now a test subject IN their ongoing trials. There is no recourse if you are injured.
    4. Moderna has admitted that the mRNA injections are an Operation System, called the “Software of Life”:
    5. Dr. James Lyons Weiler explains there are unsafe epitopes:
    6. Coronavirus vaccines have a terrible safety record. Vaccinated animals got more serious disease and many died.
    7. Two sources state this “medical device” can potentially cause sterility:two sources are now saying the COVID-19 vaccine can cause sterility: and
    8. Our public health ‘authorities’ have severe conflicts of interest and are not to be trusted. They own the patents on the pathogens, the tests, and the vaccines: and
    9. Lyme/MSIDS patients are in an epic war for their health. The last thing they need to do is partake in a dangerous experiment when there are good treatments and many things they can do to make their bodies tougher targets. Don’t be afraid of a virus.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/18/2021 (11:20 pm)

      There are certainly a lot of ideas floating around on the COVID-19 vaccine that are not supported by the evidence.

    • James Boulter
      01/21/2021 (11:38 am)

      What are your medical qualifications to make such statements? Your claim, comparing covid mortality to the flu has been routinely refuted and implies an ideological bias. (Here is just one demonstration: You cite only one peer reviewed publication in your comments, and it fails to support your thesis: “Receipt of influenza vaccination was not associated with virus interference among our population.” Your comments appear have the intent of fomenting fear in a group already suffering from lyme and associated diseases. Finally, your slander against public health practitioners is unwarranted and unfounded.

  • lou
    01/18/2021 (11:12 am)

    Many chronic lyme patients have a low white blood cell count, and their RA, hashimotos, etc are infection driven. Seems like this makes them harder to fit neatly into these categories. Plus, more than a few have mast activation, which makes adding new things, whether food or vaccines, potentially a problem. Then there is advanced age. They are giving the shot to nursing home people, but it was my understanding that the immune system weakens with age.

    It may be hazardous for any doctor to recommend against a vaccine for this population, since people who don’t immediately get vaccines, and doctors who don’t recommend them often are called anti-vaxxers. It is so tiring to have to keep pointing out shades of gray in what too many people consider a black and white world.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/18/2021 (3:22 pm)

      well stated

  • Kyle
    01/17/2021 (7:21 pm)

    I’ll be getting the vaccine this week. Will let you know if I have any difficulties.

    • Sonya
      02/09/2021 (10:36 pm)

      How did it go Kyle? I’m still on the fence. I have post-lyme syndrome or chronic lyme. Whatever you want to call it these days. Fatigue, inflammation, muscle pain, brain inflammation our my main symtoms. I am testing the waters with the vaccine by seeing how others do with it.

  • Erin
    01/16/2021 (5:09 pm)

    Thank you for the information. What are your thoughts for those with lyme and the MTHFR gene mutation (1 or 2 copies)? It is harder to detox with this mutation.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/16/2021 (7:38 pm)

      Sorry again. I don’t have an answer.

  • Marja
    01/16/2021 (4:54 pm)

    Does a current lyme diagnosis count for an underlying condition with respect to prioritization for the covid vaccine?

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/16/2021 (7:38 pm)

      I have not seen Lyme disease on the priority list despite their impaired immune system.

  • Ann Maher
    01/16/2021 (2:48 pm)

    If we Lyme disease Patients have a choice of Vaccines, which one would you recommend.!.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/16/2021 (7:36 pm)

      I am unclear which is the best vaccine. Sorry.

  • Elicia Brand-Leudemann
    01/16/2021 (2:30 pm)

    What if you have Lupus and Lyme Disease. Do you still recommend getting the COVID vaccination?

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/16/2021 (7:36 pm)

      I have been following the findings for individuals with autoimmune diseases including Lupus. I have not seen an issue despite their impaired immune system. Individuals with Lupus present with an overactive immune system as in Lyme disease. The CDC advised individuals with autoimmune disease to take the COVID-19 despite the paucity of evidence.

  • Ellen Marshall
    01/16/2021 (10:03 am)

    Thank you for keeping this discussion current. I am of the wait and see crowd. Also I must point out that having been so sick with Lyme and co-infections for decades, the my answers to the standard screening questions for Covid-19 could all be yes.

    In other words, it is hard to think of throwing one more thing at my immune system.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/16/2021 (10:43 am)

      I wrote this blog to capture the uncertainty of making a decision whether to risk the effects of COVID-19 affecting the immune system or the COVID-19 affecting the immune system.

  • Kathleen Meyer
    01/16/2021 (8:45 am)

    Since the beginning of my Lyme journey in 2012, age 55, I have been advised to use my best judgement regarding flu vaccines etc. I believe the 2012 vaccine caused a chain reaction which set off a long dormant Mononucleosis, age 18. I was very sick for 4 weeks, 2-3 of which I was bedridden and unable to walk normally. I believe the flu vaccine caused or contributed to my downfall. I have not has a flu vaccine since then. I am very reluctant to have ANY vaccines right now. I would like to see an article from Lyme patients and what their reactions are to getting a Covid vaccine. I will wait and see. My Lyme is now in remission and I’m walking again.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/16/2021 (10:34 am)

      Great comments. I understand your reluctance. I am also hopeful the Lyme disease can share their experience with COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccine to help individuals make an informed decision.

  • Christine DeSimone
    01/16/2021 (7:35 am)

    Twenty two years ago my Lyme Specialist told me not to do any vaccines and not donate blood.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      01/16/2021 (10:24 am)

      I share similar views on donation of blood given the problem with Babesia. The risk of a COVID-19 infection is high enough to question your doctor’s advice on the vaccine. I find the risk of COVID-19 is worse that the risk of the COVID-19 vaccine.

      • Lauren
        01/17/2021 (10:20 pm)

        I think it’s not a one size fits all, COVID. Everyone reacts differently. I had it and was grateful not to have been hospitalized, but was close. None the less I would not get this vaccine due to my lack of immune system from chronic lyme. My doctor advised me to not get an updated tetanus shot due to my immune system being weak. Unless there are lyme patients willing to be guinea pigs, I think it will be a few decades to see true reaction and effects of this vaccine for everyone regardless of their health issues or lack there of, especially in the lyme community. Thanks for the info and your honest thoughts Dr.

      • Dana
        01/22/2021 (5:43 pm)

        Dr. Carmeron,
        I was advised about not getting vaccine by my LLMD when I was first Diagnosed a very long time ago. Two things.
        I had Covid19 was like have a really bad case of the flu.
        I had a high fever bad cough, congestion, I had to use my oxygen, I had no energy, my Dr did end up writing me a
        prescription for cough medicine.
        So I am not sure where getting the vaccine is worse than getting Covid19 especially if the vaccine sets off a reaction in your body with your immune system and your Lyme goes crazy. Or worse you get covid from the shot. Please don’t tell that doesn’t happened I have many friends of mine that are ER Doctors, Covid Doctors and Nurse that have gotten the vaccine and got Covid19.

        • Dr. Daniel Cameron
          01/22/2021 (8:05 pm)

          The COVID-19 is produced using a messenger RNA. The COVID-19 vaccine is not a virus and therefore cannot cause COVID-19. We do not know if the vaccine can lead to changes in the immune response of individuals with or without COVID-19.

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