Now that the COVID-19 vaccine has arrived, it’s starting to feel like we just might make it to the other side of this pandemic. But because we’re still in the early stages of getting people vaccinated, there are still a lot of questions surrounding the vaccine. Medical marijuana (MMJ) users may have even more questions, including “Does marijuana affect the COVID vaccine?” To find out more about the connection between vaccinations and MMJ, read on.
What is the COVID-19 vaccine?
First off, you might be wondering what the COVID vaccine is. The vaccine is currently being distributed by three different drug companies (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson). The first two vaccine brands require two shots either three or four weeks apart, while the third option is one shot only. The shots are administered in your arm (just like a regular flu shot) by a medical professional or pharmacy worker.
The vaccine was designed to protect people from the coronavirus and went through extensive clinical trials to test its safety. It’s believed that the vaccine is effective in up to 90–95% of people. This means that only a small percentage of individuals would end up still contracting the virus even though they’ve been vaccinated. The vaccine is also valuable in that it can help people who do contract COVID to avoid becoming as severely sick from it.
Does cannabis affect vaccination effectiveness?
At the time of writing, there have not been extensive studies into the influence of marijuana on vaccine effectiveness. Much more information needs to be gathered before doctors and researchers can make that determination. At this point, there are no clinical studies that indicate that using MMJ products will make the vaccine less effective.
During the past year, there has been some research conducted on using marijuana while suffering from COVID. The findings vary: some researchers believe that marijuana might actually help with symptoms of COVID, while others believe that it could worsen symptoms in late-stage COVID. One thing researchers seem to agree on: smoking cannabis could be detrimental at any age because it can weaken the lungs’ response to outside germs (like COVID).
If you’re worried about cannabis and COVID-19, your best bet is to use edibles or tinctures when imbibing. Bottom line: we don’t yet know if the vaccine is affected by cannabis usage, but it’s likely you’ll be fine if you’re using MMJ products and you get vaccinated. It’s assumed the vaccine will be just as effective.
Can MMJ patients get vaccinated?
Right now, there are no restrictions on MMJ patients getting vaccinated. In fact, many MMJ users make great vaccine candidates because they often suffer from chronic illnesses. In many states, individuals with a variety of serious conditions are now eligible for vaccines (including folks with diabetes, lung conditions, cancer, etc.) People who rely on MMJ products to relieve physical symptoms are likely to also be eligible for the COVID vaccine.
What steps should you take as an MMJ patient to get vaccinated?
Because there are still a lot of unknowns at this time, your best bet is to take some extra steps before you get vaccinated to ensure your safety.
1. Research whether you’re eligible for the vaccine in your state
Every state is doing the vaccine rollout a little differently. Some states have already started vaccinating their general population, while others (like California) are only vaccinating health care and essential workers at this time. In order to tell whether you’re eligible for a vaccine right now, head to your specific state’s health department website. There you’ll find information about when it will be your turn to get vaccinated.
2. Call your doctor
If you’re an MMJ user, it’s a good idea to contact your doctor before you get vaccinated. They can help answer any questions you might have about the safety of using cannabis and getting vaccinated. Make sure to ask anything you might be wondering about, including post-vaccine side effects or symptoms, so you’ll have all of the information you need to feel safe.
3. Make an appointment
Different states are handling vaccine appointments in various ways. You should be able to find information about how and when to make an appointment by heading to your state’s health department website, as mentioned above. When making the appointment, read through everything to see what you’ll need to bring with you (typically ID and/or documentation) so that you’ll be all set to get your vaccine at your appointed time.
There are obviously still more studies that need to be conducted so that we know more about the connection between MMJ and vaccines. At this time, the best option is to ask your doctor about it and continue to use your MMJ products responsibly.
Featured image by Hakan Nural on Unsplash