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Andy Nguyen
By Andy Nguyen December 10, 2021

No, getting the COVID-19 vaccine won’t weaken your immune system

If Your Time is short

  • There has been no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines weaken the immune system.

  • Researchers have found that vaccines actually increase a person’s immune response.

One of the many misinformed claims about COVID-19 vaccination is that it will weaken a person’s immune system and make them more susceptible to other viruses. 

Here’s an example from The Exposé, which highlights a video of a doctor going over the negative effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. The headline said:

"Mayo Clinic-trained doctor says COVID-19 vaccines suppress the immune system, making people more prone to HIV, shingles and herpes."

The video features Dr. Ryan Cole, an Idaho-based derma-pathologist whose expertise is in skin disorders. It was taken from a longer interview Cole gave to anti-vaccination group Health Freedom Idaho where he spoke out against the COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination mandates. 

In the video, Cole claims the impact the vaccine has on the body is "almost a reverse HIV," where there’s a drop in a person's T cell count. T cells are part of the body’s immune response, and they kill certain cells like cancer cells and virus-infected cells.

Cole claimed he has seen a rise among vaccinated people developing different illnesses because of this lower T cell count, including herpes, shingles and human papillomavirus. He also claims to have seen a 20 times increase in people older than 50 developing a type of skin rash called molluscum contagiosum.

"That’s innocuous, but what it tells me is the immune status of these individuals who have gotten the shot," Cole says. "We’re literally weakening the immune system of these individuals."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

We reached out to Cole to see if he could provide evidence that shows a direct link between the illnesses he listed in the video and the COVID-19 vaccines, but did not receive a response.

PolitiFact looked into similar claims about the vaccines’ impact on a person's health, but have found no evidence getting a shot would weaken the immune system.

The science doesn’t back Cole’s claim that the vaccines cause a lower T cell count.

Studies published in scientific journals like Immunity and Science Immunology have found the vaccines actually boost a person’s T cell response, especially if they haven’t been infected with COVID-19 prior to their vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also found that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 doesn’t weaken the body’s immune response, it increases.

Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told PolitiFact that the idea the vaccines would weaken a person’s immune system isn’t supported by the available clinical trial data.

"This wasn't observed in any of the phase 3 trials, where complete blood counts were obtained," he said.

Our ruling

A doctor claimed getting vaccinated against COVID-19 would weaken a person’s immune system and make them more susceptible to other illnesses.

Studies into the efficacy of the vaccines have found that they actually strengthen a person’s immunity. There has been no evidence that links a weakened immune system to the COVID-19 vaccines. 

We rate this claim False. ​

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No, getting the COVID-19 vaccine won’t weaken your immune system

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