Is the COVID Vaccine Safe for Thyroid Patients?

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Originally published on 26th January 2021 
Last updated on 22nd August 2021

I’m receiving messages daily that ask me:

  • Should thyroid patients get the COVID vaccine?
  • Is the COVID vaccine safe for thyroid patients?
  • Will the COVID vaccine worsen thyroid health / cause a flare up in symptoms?

The answer? Let’s take a look at the information we currently have.

Vaccinations are always a controversial topic and among the thyroid community, the COVID vaccine is no exception. 

Should thyroid patients get the covid vaccine

Concerns About The Vaccine

For many people, they naturally hold concerns that the vaccine is ‘just too new’, hasn’t been tested on a large amount of people with autoimmune conditions (such as Hashimoto’s and Grave’s Disease) and may make those with health conditions such as thyroid disease unwell.

As always, please speak directly with your doctor about whether they believe you’re an at-risk person for complications of COVID-19 or any vaccine, as your own personal situation could determine you a priority for the vaccine.

I’m not going to get in to the debate about the general controversy surrounding various vaccines, for which many people have strong views for and against, but instead, just look at the COVID vaccine in relation to thyroid disease.

I am not going to tell you whether or not you should get the vaccine, as I couldn’t possibly make that decision for you. Instead I’m hoping to give you the information you need to help you make a well-informed decision yourself.

Autoimmune Disease Concerns 

For most of us with hypothyroidism, we have the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s to thank. Around 90% of us have Hashimoto’s as the culprit causing hypothyroidism [1] and many thyroid patients are concerned about the possibly of the COVID vaccine making their autoimmune thyroid disease worse.

Asking whether or not you should get the vaccine as an autoimmune disease patient is a reasonable question, given that the vaccine interacts with your immune system which is already functioning a little oddly.

However, there is no known issue with thyroid patients receiving this vaccine.

There are no studies that show the COVID vaccine directly affecting thyroid health and function, but equally, there aren’t studies solidifying that it is completely safe for thyroid patients either. The fact is, it’s just too early on to have this data yet.

We do know that it affects the immune system though, as the very point of the vaccine is to have the body produce antibodies against the virus. This isn’t ‘natural’ as such and enough research hasn’t been conducted in to it to know the possible outcomes, but for those with autoimmune conditions, it’s not unreasonable to question how these can be affected.

People with thyroid conditions were included in the COVID vaccine trials and, as of yet, researchers have not shared any data regarding adverse effects in patients with thyroid disease.

Interestingly though, there’s some scientific evidence that certain vaccines (though not necessarily the COVID vaccine) may actually help prevent the manifestation of autoimmune diseases, by altering a person’s immune system in such a way that it is protective. [2]

At present, there is no established scientific data showing that those with thyroid disease are at any extra risk from the COVID vaccine.

A Note on ‘Being Immunocompromised’

Many people with autoimmune conditions, such as Hashimoto’s and Grave’s Disease, become confused about whether they are ‘immunocompromised’.

According to the American Thyroid Association, “Having autoimmune thyroid disease does not mean that a person is immunocompromised.” [3]

People who fall in to the immunocompromised category include:

  • those on chemotherapy treatment
  • those with a disease which causes immunodeficiency, such as HIV
  • those being treated for certain autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis or lupus

If you fall in to the ‘immunocompromised’ category, please make the decision of whether to get the vaccine with your doctor. You may have more considerations to keep in mind.

Who is The Vaccine Available To?

This really depends on the country in which you live in. Here in the UK, the vaccine is being given to the most vulnerable first, including the oldest members of society and those with serious underlying health conditions. Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s are currently not included in this.

However, the government is hoping to vaccinate most adults by the end of 2021. So although you may not be offered a COVID vaccine early 2021, you will likely have been offered one later in the year.

Other countries are rolling the vaccine out at a slightly different rate but are most often vaccinating the most vulnerable first, too.

If you have any allergies, please discuss whether these affect getting the COVID vaccine with your doctor.

Weighing it up

Weighing up the chances of:

A) getting the COVID vaccine and it flaring up your thyroid condition

with

B) not having the vaccine and getting ill (possibly very ill) from catching the virus itself and this flaring up your thyroid condition (and developing ‘long COVID’) , isn’t easy for everyone.

We may feel as if our choice is between going without the vaccination and risking catching COVID-19 and it making us very ill, with having the vaccine and that worsening our health instead. It’s a bit of a double edged sword and no one can say for sure what your reaction (if any) will be to the vaccine or virus until either has touched you.

Experts tend to agree, however, that the risk of a potentially deadly virus like COVID-19 outweighs the risk of a thyroid flare, so this is worth keeping in mind.

Whether you decide that the COVID vaccine is for you or not, remember that the best way to avoid contracting any illness is with good hygiene and ample amounts of certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients in your diet. Bone brothsVitamin C, D, Zinc and Selenium all support the immune system, as does a well-balanced and nutrient dense diet.

Washing your hands frequently, keeping distance from others, wearing a face covering/mask, using hand sanitiser, exercising regularly, maintaining a good sleep routine and keeping stress levels low also all help to avoid coming down with illness.

For more information on looking after your thyroid health in the winter, check out this article.

Further Reading on This Vaccine and Thyroid Health:

Information for people with autoimmune disease, from an American naturopathic doctor.

“Why I’m Getting The COVID Vaccine as a Thyroid Patient and Future Naturopathic Doctor.” (Canadian)

British Thyroid Foundation.

A Moderna scientist who is answering people’s questions on twitter.

An immunologist whose specialty is pregnancy, and who answers a lot of questions around vaccines/ covid/ pregnancy/ fertility and so-on.

Fact checking site example.

Will you get the vaccine? Feel free to share in the comments below but please be respectful of other peoples’ opinions too.

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

References:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3066320

[2] https://www.verywellhealth.com/do-thyroid-patients-need-a-flu-shot-3233145

[3] https://www.thyroid.org/covid-19/coronavirus-frequently-asked-questions/#hypothyroidism



If you found this article beneficial, please take a moment to share it so we can help others get better with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's, whilst also raising awareness.

38 thoughts on “Is the COVID Vaccine Safe for Thyroid Patients?

  1. I have had Hashimotos for about 20 years now and medication both synthroid and liothyronine have kept symptoms at bay, I mostly feel and function great. Until after I received my second vaccine shot from Pfizer. About 2 weeks (June 14) after I began to have symptoms. At first I thought I was just getting run down. Then I realized it was my thyroid acting up. After 2 zoom consults with my nurse practitioner, we think it is subacute thyroiditis. I just did blood work, will know results this week. And I’m getting an ultrasound on Friday. My thyroid, tonsils and adenoid are swollen and have been now for about 3 weeks. My throat is tight. I took a COVID test and it’s negative. Just looking to see if any others have had a negative reaction and what to do.

    1. Me to! I thought it was just me. I had my second shot of Pfizer and all my old hypo symptoms came rushing back 3 days after the shot. Have not had any symptoms since being treated 3 years ago. It’s been weeks of talking to walk-in doctors who say my TSH is normal, when I know something is off. Finally got in with my old family doctor a province away to get a full panel of tests done. I’m hopeful he can get me over this flare up.

  2. Hi. I was diagnosed in 2018 only a few weeks before COVID, and I was so relieved. Finally knowing that the thing I’ve struggled with since childhood is a real thing, and not just the paranoia as my birth family claimed. My issue is I am hyper-sensitive to medications. I can’t take ibuprofen if I know I’ll be out, because it causes me to get so tired, I’m lethargic. I am also unable to take a flu vaccine, and my son is unable to take the flu vaccine due to an allergy. Because of my hyper-sensitive immune system, I have a list of things, foods, and medications, which I have to avoid. As a single parent of a child with special needs, I cannot afford to allow anything to happen to me. As such I have decided not to take the vaccine. I agree that is a highly personal decision. All this anti-vax-er talk makes me feel nervous sometimes because it has nothing to do with my personal decision. What I don’t understand is that if so, many Americans have Hashimoto’s, why is it that I hit my 30’s before I ever heard of it. I had no idea what it was/is, and am still struggling with it, along with my list of other medical and mental issues. As we all know Hashimoto’s is a precursor to other issues. I feel it would be great if more people spoke out about it so that we who struggle don’t have to feel so insecure. I think people who have other immune issues, like Lupis for example, probably feel the same way. I hope we all can manage and keep our positivity, despite our struggles.

  3. since I have underactive thyroid disease, but on levothyroxine for it daily – I asked my PCP doctor if I should get the vaccine. He said of course you should. I was afraid – for the 2nd shot – not so much the 1st – I had a banging headache for 2 days afterwards, no arm trouble where you got the shot, and
    also my jaw ached for 2 days on the left side. I felt more tired and rested. Used Door Dash alot for meals. This was in May. Didn’t feel so good for 2 weeks, but ok now. Ask your PCP (primary care
    physician) – each case is different. I’d rather be vaccinated than excluded from baseball games and sit on the other side with the unvaccinated !

  4. Hi, its now the end of July 2021 and I feel that I am making the right decision to concentrate on strengthening my immune system rather than taking the vaccine. New data is emerging with regards the longer term/hidden side effects of the vaccine and my opinion is that it is too greater risk to ‘my’ health. It definitely is a double edged sword and it is a decision I revisit every day, but due to my current regime (healing breath work, daily supplementation, exercise etc.) I’m feeling stronger than I’ve felt in a long time, and really don’t want to rock the boat.
    Taking or not taking the vaccine is a very personal decision which we all make for our own reasons. The greatest stressor at the moment is the awful divisive comments from MSM and others; this makes me really sad xx

  5. I certainly don’t intend to take the risk of the vaccine myself. Yes the risk of the virus is there, but we have an immune system to protect us and help us fight viruses and other bugs, and it is very good at it. Conversely, our immune system is not geared to protect us from inserted mRNA that creates spike proteins in our body. One large worry I have about it is that – if there isn’t an ‘off button’ for the production of these spike proteins – the vaccine(s) may keep on stimulating our immune systems indefinitely. This implies that autoimmunity could be considerably worsened over time, with no way to stop it.

  6. I know i have felt terrible since the second jab (Pfizer) with a return of old Hypo symptoms i havent had since back when i was on just levothyroxine.

    But id rather have that than covid.

  7. I have Hashimotos,I didn’t even give it a second thought when I was offered the Astra Zenica vaccine.
    I was just filled with dread and fear of ending up on a ventilator.
    I took the flu jab fir the first time this year also.I felt absolutely fine after the jabs,the only side effect being a sore arm for a day .

  8. Im 42 i have the early stages of hypothyroidism, otherwise I am healthy. I am in my target weight range, and i eat healthy. I am not on medication yet, but will need to in the future. I had Covid in November 2020, and had most of the symptoms with a fever up to 104F. I was only really sick for 5 days, but quarantined for 10 days. I would estimate I was not fully healthy for an entire 4 months afterwards. I had balance and concentration issues. Finally, my health declined further suddenly and i ended up in the hospital. Tests have not revealed anything. I believe this was a longhauller incident related to Covid. After my hospital visit my health has returned to pre covid normal. Im like everyone here, weighing the risk vs reward. Finally, after seeing people in the hospital firsthand from Delta, I have decided to get the Pfizer vaccine today 7/27/21. This decision feels like a critical one for me and my family. I will follow up in a couple of days with a part 2.

  9. I had the virus last year. I also have Graves Disease, which was treated with a two year protocol but has since relapsed. I’ve found a total disregard when I bring this up with my doctor and I know it is severely impacting the quality of my life no !after how I try diet exercise etc. I’m sure others can share !y frustration. I am very pro vaccinatons (my grandmother had polio), and have had all available so far…but. This new new COVID vaccine I will not take right now because: these were developed quickly, for good reason, but they were still pushed through without thorough tests for patients such as thyroid problems; I know my own body and do not want any relapse that could cause me to be so fatigued and shaking, for two weeks or six months…it is not worth the hit to my health, especially since the medical professionals seem to ignore this illness; I’m also willing to wait for a better tested vaccine. Then I will gladly take it…I’m sure it will only take a year-ish with all the money involved. And I hope it works.

  10. Hi! I have have Hashimotos which I’m managing pretty well at the moment but suffered terribly from for years in terms of depression, brain fog, weight gain, extreme fatigue, lethargy, etc. I contracted Covid last November, but didn’t have any symptoms bar sore sinuses for a day, and it didn’t effect me in terms of my symptoms. I’m not anti-vax but since I’ve had covid and I know it’s effects on me, I am waiting longer until there is more evidence of the effect of vaccine on auto immune diseases before I take it. I don’t ever want to go back to how I was before, I would rather get covid again to be honest…

    1. Hi Petals90, my story is similar to yours, with the exception that I haven’t had COVID. I’m working really hard on natural prevention (exercise, breath work, supplements etc.) as an alternative to the vaccine as the research so far (of which there is little) has not convinced me that the vaccine is safe for me.

    2. I am in the same situation! I had Covid back in November. Had a few rough days and couldn’t smell for 5 months, but all in all I think I faired well! I stopped receiving any vaccinations about 4 years ago. Two years in a row after receiving the Influenza vaccinations my Hashimotos flared up! It took roughly 3 months to recover from each flare! I know all immune systems are different, but I don’t think mine likes foreign vaccine invaders:) So until there is more research, I don’t think I want to get the jab yet!

  11. I have hashimoto disease and asthma. I have both shots of Pfizer. I had side effects after the 1st shot for 3 days, the fatigue and headaches were not fun but better than having COVID. The second shot I had arm pain but no other side effects.
    My Dad has hypothyroidism and no side effects with moderna – both shots. I feel grateful to receive the vaccine and I personally felt it was worth it.

  12. I received both shots of Pfizer. I have Hashimoto Disease and asthma. The 1st shot I had side effects that are described could happen-fatigue, aches, headaches and nausea. They lasted 3 days the

  13. I am 35 years old and was diagnosed with hypothyroidism last year. I doubt it to get the vaccine first and talked with my GP and a nurse wether to take or not take the vaccine and they said Yes go get it. So I got my first Moderna shot and second dose is in two weeks. I am traveling overseas so thought its better to get it. Although one of my friends who even doesn’t have hypothyroidism but trying to get pregnant is not getting the vaccine because she is unsure of it. Just wanted to share my experience.

  14. My name is Pamela I had my thyroid removed over 20 yrs ago..I do take synthroid since then…in dec I caught covid and I had it really bad..thanks to plasma transfusion it saved my life…BUT…since having covid I have had alot of thyroid symptom..low temps ,hair falling out , I can not concentrate ,I forget alot, im sooo tired and drained, I dont have an appetite, I forget everything, I’ve even known my balance to be off, and my thoughts seem all over the place and foggy, I feel like getting sick from my anxiety being so strong, I can not concentrate, I feel like my heart is pounding and beating fast all of the time, I feel at times I cant catch my breath and I cry alot, NO I MEAN ALOT, over stupid little things like I see a cute dog on TV and I cry…now since covid they said they tested my thyroid while in the hospital…but after having covid and recovering its now may im still having these issues so my blood test will be done Monday and I will reveal the results…but im sure thyroid meds are way low…in 20 yrs I never had to adjust my thyroid meds..after covid thats the one thing u wanna do for a few months or if ur having symptoms of any kind see ur dr..I have NOT HAD THE VACCINE…im scared to…I seen what having covid did to me im concerned what the vaccine will do to me..there are no reports of ir affecting ur thyroid with the vaccine but they didn’t say having covid would affect ur thyroid and I dont believe there’s enough information for anyone to make any decisions until u speak with ur dr…my opinion is…there is not proof or data that can tell me if the vaccine will or will not affect my thyroid..I will be back to let everyone know the results

  15. I had the oxford vaccine just over a week ago, no problems at all, no side effects not even a sore arm, very pleased I have had it and look forward to the second one in around 12 weeks

  16. I have had hypothyroidism for nearly 26 years, recently it has been well controlled with thyroxine. I had the Covid vaccine (Oxford) this week as I work in a special needs school, I chose to have it because my anxieties around catching Covid are so high that I have been unable to work. After the vaccine, I’ve had flu-like symptoms, aching muscles, cold, muggy head, headache, and no energy for 2 days as well as a sore arm but I’m getting better again. I’m glad I had it, the benefits outweigh the side effects.

    1. I had my thyroid removed over 20 yrs ago..I do take synthroid since then…in dec I caught covid and I had it really bad..thanks to plasma transfusion it saved my life…BUT…since having covid I have had alot of thyroid symptom..low temps ,hair falling out , I can not concentrate ,I forget alot, im sooo tired and drained, I dont have an appetite, I forget everything, I’ve even known my balance to be off, and my thoughts seem all over the place and foggy, I feel like getting sick from my anxiety being so strong, I can not concentrate, I feel like my heart is pounding and beating fast all of the time, I feel at times I cant catch my breath and I cry alot, NO I MEAN ALOT, over stupid little things like I see a cute dog on TV and I cry…now since covid they said they tested my thyroid while in the hospital…but after having covid and recovering its now may im still having these issues so my blood test will be done Monday and I will reveal the results…but im sure thyroid meds are way low…in 20 yrs I never had to adjust my thyroid meds..after covid thats the one thing u wanna do for a few months or if ur having symptoms of any kind see ur dr..I have NOT HAD THE VACCINE…im scared to…I seen what having covid did to me im concerned what the vaccine will do to me..there are no reports of ir affecting ur thyroid with the vaccine but they didn’t say having covid would affect ur thyroid and I dont believe there’s enough information for anyone to make any decisions until u speak with ur dr…my opinion is…there is not proof or data that can tell me if the vaccine will or will not affect my thyroid..I will be back to let everyone know the results

  17. I was happily adjusted on LT4 for 18 years. Then I had a root canal & my first & only seasonal flu jab. Within six months, I became terribly out of whack. I’m still not eythyroid on T3 monotherapy & CT3M for cortisol almost three years later. No other changes, so which was it that threw me under the bus? I’m leaning toward blaming the dental work & getting the Covid jab. Here in Thailand, that likely won’t be within 2021. I won’t be getting another seasonal flu jab anyway!

  18. Have discovered I may have an acacia allergy and will be asking for the Oxford vaccine. Phizer and Moderna all have Polyethylene Glycol PEG in them which was also in Zyban, which I took trying to give up smoking. After much research, I have discovered PEG could be associated with acacia. I had no problem with the recent flu vaccine which has polysorbate 20 in it and the Oxford Astra-zenica has Polysorbate 80 so should be fine. Everyone should have a Covid vaccine even if they are worried!

  19. I had a total thyroidectomy in 2012 and take Levothyroxine. Due to being classed as a critical care worker I received my first dose of the Astra Zenica vaccine on 13/01/21. I had no side effects from the vaccine and my arm wasn’t particularly sore. I suffered no effect thyroxine wise from the vaccine and my levels have remained stable. There was no doubt in my mind that I would have the vaccine and I’m glad I did as I myself tested positive for Covid 19 on 22/01/21 and now at home self isolating. Knowing that I have got a little protection against this virus is making me feel calmer whilst I work my way through the symptoms, which so far have been mild compared to a lot of people fighting this.

  20. Hi Rachel, I was diagnosed with Hashimotos a couple of years ago and have been thinking a lot about whether I should get the vaccination. I live in Northern Ireland and as I am a carer for my son who has special needs I will be offered the vaccination a bit earlier that the rest of the population. I’ve decided that I will get the jab because I feel the risk is worth it. I am keeping myself as fit and well as I can at the moment so that my health and immune system are as strong as they can be before the the vaccination. The truth is I just can’t take the risk of falling ill with Covid. I have 2 young children to look after and I don’t want to spend any more of my life worrying about catching this awful virus. If the vaccine helps things to get back to some kind of normality then I’m willing to take the chance x

  21. I have hashimoto disease but apart from that I am healthy. I eat a low carb diet and take my vitamins and minerals daily. If I had covid it didn’t affect me, perhaps as I’ve taken 2500iu vitamin d for several years and do not have any other comorbidities associated with a higher risk of catching covid. I won’t be having the vaccine as I do not think in my case it will benefit me. Await to see how this trial of the first mRNA gene therapy “vaccine” works out.

  22. I will be having the covid vaccine. I have asthma and get the flu jab yearly. 4 years ago I was ill with pneumonia and never want to feel so ill again. My GP advised me to have the Pneumonia vaccine even though I was not in the age bracket for this, which I did and since then have not had any winter illnesses. I am also a front line worker and so for me to have the vaccination is a no brainer.

  23. Hi Rachel, I’m on synthroid & have hypo active thyroid. It’s regulated with the medicine. I’m extremely nervous to get the Covid vaccine. Not because of my thyroid, just in general. I’m not anti-vaccine but on the border. I have never gotten the flu shot. I’m 61 yrs old. My Dr basically told me I will be fine to get the shot. I feel like it came out so fast, there have been related deaths possibly from the shot. Sooo with all that rushing thru my brain, I’m leaning on possibly not getting it. Help,what’s your thoughts? Also I thought maybe waiting another 5 or 6 months to wait & hear more feedback. Thank you for taking the time to read this
    Mary

  24. I have hypothyroidism. I also had Covid 19 in December. I just thought I had a cold. Anyway, ended up in ER for another issue and they found glassy looking spots in my lungs which can lead to pneumonia. I breathed into a spiralmeter and was fine. I don’t plan to get a vaccine. I don’t get flu shots either.

  25. I am a middle school teacher in the U.S., and was very skeptical about receiving the vaccine at first. After some thought, reading and talking with my functional medicine doctor I decided to take the vaccine. I have had the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and go for my second one next week. Besides a sore arm, I have felt just fine. No signs of a flare. My levels are quite optimal right now, so I am sure that helps. I take the flu shot most years, and I have received the pneumonia vaccine after suffering with walking pneumonia for several months a few years ago. I don’t want to go through that again, the antibiotics and steroids to treat that really did a number on my thyroid well-being. I feel like I need to prevent getting the sicknesses that wipe me out, because I don’t recover as quickly as people who do not suffer from hypothyroidism. It’s a tough decision to make, but I feel good with the decision I made.

  26. Hello Rachel, I have been following you on Instagram for quite a while. Just this article of yours popped up whilst I’m sitting in a waiting room after my vaccination. I have hypothyroidism. Been diagnosed at age 13. Since then I’m on levothyroxine. Last night I called doctor and she couldn’t answer my questions whether its good or bad. Just GP here is taking care of hypothyroidism which is for me absolutely mental. Unfortunately this doctor apparently didn’t even know what Selenium is. Its very sad. Nobody has answers and these are very scary times.

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