Are negative vaccine reactions all in your head?

If you or anyone you know has already received a COVID vaccination you’ve probably heard all of the stories about the side effects that many people report after being jabbed. These vary from minor digestive issues and chills to elevated temperatures and heart rates, with some people even fainting. But are those all medical conditions caused by something in the vaccines or could they be psychosomatic in nature? The latter possibility is being looked at more closely after the CD released the results of a study this week finding that a significant number of people experiencing negative reactions to the vaccine were actually suffering from anxiety at sufficiently high levels to produce a physical response in their bodies. The study looked at patients receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccinations in five states over a one-week period in April. (NBC News)

It was anxiety — and not a problem with the shots — that caused reactions in dozens of people at coronavirus vaccine clinics in five states, U.S. health officials have concluded.

Experts say the clusters detailed Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are an example of a phenomenon that’s been chronicled for decades from a variety of different vaccines. Basically, some people get so freaked out by injections that their anxiety spurs a physical reaction.

“We knew we were going to see this” as mass Covid-19 vaccine clinics were set up around the world, said Dr. Noni MacDonald, a Canadian researcher who has studied similar incidents.

The doctors conducting the study are referring to the side effects experienced by these patients as “anxiety-related events.” The people making the list experienced some combination of:

  • fainting
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • racing hearts
  • chest pain

Not being a doctor, I knew that people could experience physical effects from anxiety, but I wasn’t aware that it was that severe for some patients. Making matters worse was the fact that all of the clinics in the study were administering the J&J vaccine. With all of the bad headlines they were getting, combined with the lower advertised efficacy rate (compared to Moderna and Pfizer), it’s no wonder the people were anxious.

On top of that, the cautionary procedures being mandated at most vaccination sites probably don’t do much to calm people’s nerves. At the pod where one of my relatives works near my home, after getting your shot you are sent to a large room full of chairs spaced six feet apart. You’re required to sit there among a large group of strangers while everyone stares at a large clock until fifteen minutes have gone by. If you’ve managed to not collapse onto the floor by then you’re allowed to leave. That’s a pretty anxiety-ridden experience.

When I went down to receive both a flu vaccination and two doses of the shingles vaccine last fall, as soon as the shots were done I was sent merrily on my way. I didn’t experience much in the way of side effects beyond some soreness at the injection site. And you would get that from having any sort of long metal needle jabbed into your triceps.

None of the patients in the study went on to develop any lasting physical illness. That fact is apparently what led the research group to conclude that the shots really weren’t causing the problems. So if that’s the case, does that mean that basically none of the side effects from the COVID vaccine are “real” in terms of a physical reaction to the dose? We keep hearing the CDC tell us that side effects show that “the vaccine is working” because it represents your own immune system responding to the intruder. Was that all nonsense? And if not, how are we supposed to know if we’re experiencing an actual immune response or it’s just our own anxiety making us ill? This wasn’t the most helpful bit of new information to be put out by the CDC this year if you ask me.

David Strom 6:41 PM on September 26, 2022
David Strom 4:41 PM on September 26, 2022