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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.
(Please note the date this article was published, above. As new information about COVID-19 is constantly coming out, this article may become out of date)
Vaccinations are always a controversial topic and among the thyroid community, the COVID vaccine is no exception.
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  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. 
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.” 
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.
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
B) not having the vaccine and getting ill (possibly very ill) from the virus and this flaring up your thyroid condition, isn’t easy.
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 until the vaccine is given.
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 broths, Vitamin C, D, Zinc and Selenium all support the immune system, as does a well-balanced and nutrient dense diet.
Washing your hands frequently, 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.
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.
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes authoring books, writing articles, her email newsletters, blogging and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a founding board member for the American College of Thyroidology and The WEGO Health Patient Leader Advisory Board. Rachel has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, ThyroidChange and many more. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work and dedication. She has authored two books: ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate‘ and ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism‘. Rachel is British, but advocates for thyroid patients on a global scale.