Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS) is a well known neurological condition which has been associated with vaccinations of all kinds, especially the flu vaccine. But it also occurs spontaneously as a result of various inflammatory illnesses as well as out of the blue, without any clear cause.
It can be quite scary as the symptoms consist of gradually, and in some cases rapidly, progressive muscle weakness, starting in the legs and moving upwards. In some cases, the weakness progresses to the point where patients are unable to breathe and need to be on a ventilator, occasionally needing tracheotomy until their strength returns, which it does pretty quickly in the vast majority of cases.
Why it occurs is not clear but it probably has to do with some mixed signaling of our immune system and as a result, the myelin (insulation) of nerves gets attacked by our own immune system leading to decreased nerve conduction resulting in weakness. The myelin quickly reforms, reestablishing electrical conductivity. There are treatments and there is a lot more to it, which I will skip for now.
The point is that it is seen as a side effect of Covid vaccination.The rate is about 1 in 128,000 vaccinations.
BUT, just like every other Covid vaccine side effect we have seen, the rate is overblown and not a reason to avoid vaccination. The rate of GBS after the flu vaccine is 1 in 100,000, the same as the rate as in the general population without an obvious cause.
So in other words, you are more likely to get GBS walking down the street, than after getting the Covid vaccine!
Having had GBS in the past, with a vaccination or not, is also NOT a reason to avoid the Covid vaccine. In fact the reason you may have had GBS suggests that your immune system is not ideal so you are at risk of getting Covid or having a severe case, or even dying from Covid so you need the vaccine even more.
The stats are clear about the efficacy of the vaccine. Of all the people who have died from covid in the last 6 months, 99.2% were not vaccinated. Only 0.8% of the deaths were in vaccinated people, all of whom were probably elderly or ill in many other ways.
Vaccines work, they are safe, and they are the ONLY way we are going to get over this pandemic and get to some kind of coexistence with the virus since it will NEVER go away completely. The numbers are already on the rise in the US, primarily in the states with the worst vaccination rates and seem to be mostly as a result of the Delta variant, the much more infectious and aggressive variant, dominating most of the world now.
Although death rates in the US continue to drop, the new infection case rate has increased by 70% in only the last week. Only 48% of Americans are fully vaccinated and remember that we need at least 70% of people fully vaccinated to reach herd immunity, and that needs to be worldwide, and assumes that we are still talking about the original virus. The estimates are that we need closer to 90% vaccinated for us to achieve herd immunity with the newer, more infectious variants. It will never happen.
LA county is now re-implementing indoor mask mandates. We are heading back into the storm.
Please enjoy the summer outdoors and be with your family and friends but do it safely and remember that this is not over by a long shot.
MASK up where appropriate
DISTANCE where appropriate.
WASH your hands when needed.
VENTILATE (stay outdoors)
GET HEALTHY! Being in good shape is your best defence, after vaccination.
Stay safe and be well.