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Can Vaccines Cause Cytokine Storm?

Why do some people think that flu vaccines can cause cytokine storm?

Vaccines do not cause cytokine storm.
Vaccines do not cause cytokine storm.

The usual suspects…

What is a Cytokine Storm?

Wait, what?

Cytokine storm?

“A severe immune reaction in which the body releases too many cytokines into the blood too quickly. Cytokines play an important role in normal immune responses, but having a large amount of them released in the body all at once can be harmful. A cytokine storm can occur as a result of an infection, autoimmune condition, or other disease. It may also occur after treatment with some types of immunotherapy. Signs and symptoms include high fever, inflammation (redness and swelling), and severe fatigue and nausea. Sometimes, a cytokine storm may be severe or life threatening and lead to multiple organ failure. Also called hypercytokinemia.”


Definition of Cytokine Storm

While a cytokine storm is not a good thing, the cytokines that cause them are important proteins that help our immune system work.

“Cytokines are small proteins that are crucial in controlling the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells. When released, they signal the immune system to do its job. Cytokines affect the growth of all blood cells and other cells that help the body’s immune and inflammation responses. They also help to boost anti-cancer activity by sending signals that can help make abnormal cells die and normal cells live longer.”

Cytokines and Their Side Effects

Cytokines include proteins like interleukins (IL-2, IL-7, IL-12, and IL-21), interferons (anti-viral proteins), tumor necrosis factors (help regulate inflammatory and immune responses), and growth factors (regulate immune cells).

Can Vaccines Cause Cytokine Storm?

While most of you have likely never heard of cytokines or a cytokine storm, they are, not surprisingly, something some folks say cause vaccine injury.

So can vaccines cause cytokine storm?

To be sure, cytokines get to work after you get a vaccine. Or for that matter, after you are exposed to a bacteria, virus, or parasite. We need cytokines to help us make antibodies and develop immunity, whether it is natural immunity or vaccine-induced immunity.

“In order to mount and coordinate an effective immune response, a mechanism by which lymphocytes, inflammatory cells and haematopoietic cells can communicate with each other is required. Cytokines perform this function.”

But there is no evidence that vaccines can cause a cytokine storm.

“In review of the relevant literature related to the vaccine and AE combinations considered by the committee, no evidence that directly or indirectly supports the oversecretion of cytokines as an operative mechanism was found.”

Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality.

There is no evidence that flu vaccines can cause a cytokine storm.

What can cause a cytokine storm?

“Although the concept certainly predates the coining of the term, the first use of “cytokine storm” appears to be in an article published in 1993 on graft-versus-host disease. The use of the term in infectious disease research began in early 2000 in reports on cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, group A streptococcus, influenza virus, variola virus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV).”

Into the Eye of the Cytokine Storm

Many infectious diseases, including some that are vaccine preventable.

And not only do vaccines not cause cytokine storms, researchers are studying whether the BCG vaccine can actually prevent those who get sick with COVID-19 from developing cytokine storm!

“In high-risk patients with co-morbidities, COVID-19 infection and the ensuing ‘cytokine storm’ can exacerbate severe clinical manifestations, culminating in high mortality amongst patients with associated risk factors. On the other hand, vaccination with BCG and the subsequent regulated secretion of IFN and other cytokines including IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-6 can contribute to the emergence of trained innate immunity, with the potential to generate early protection against SARS-Cov2.”

A cytokine super cyclone in COVID-19 patients with risk factors: the therapeutic potential of BCG immunization

So what are you going to do the next time you see someone post something about a vaccine induced cytokine storm, trying to scare folks away from getting vaccinated and protected? Report it as fake news.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

And they don’t cause cytokine storm.

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