NCCIH director on COVID-19 vaccines says it’s “and” not “or”

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

When we understand the framework of whole person health, it’s clear that discussions are best rooted in “and” not “or,” said Helene Langevin, MD, director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, in a public statement on vaccines and complementary medicine.

Misinformation and disinformation, especially as it pertains to vaccinations, have flourished during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Langevin said. In many cases, this “infodemic” has exacerbated the harms caused by the virus itself.

In many cases, misinformation and disinformation related to COVID-19 positions “natural” health against vaccines and other public health measures. High-quality health information and scientific research can be lost in the shuffle of questionable online sources promising quick fixes making unsubstantiated health claims. This can be detrimental, Langevin said, as patients try to make sound decisions about their health.

Langevin said it is vital to recognize sources of rigorous, evidence-based information and the need to combine the best of conventional, complementary, and integrative approaches. She rounded out her statement saying, "the evidence is clear":

  • "Being vaccinated against COVID-19 is vital to protecting your health and the health of your community.
  • Continued public health measures like wearing masks, distancing, good indoor ventilation, and hand hygiene offer important layers of added protection.
  • Complementary and integrative health practices that promote health—like quality sleep, good nutrition, physical activity, social support, stress management, and others—can foster a strong baseline of health.
  • Complementary and integrative approaches do not replace the need for COVID-19 vaccines and other proven public health measures." 

“NCCIH’s research recognizes this by focusing on complementary and integrative approaches, not “alternative”,” Langevin said in the statement. “Our health is the sum of many deeply interconnected parts, and the benefits of positive health practices can cascade from one health system within our body to another. As we consider the countless interconnected factors that affect our health, we should count as one of them the quality of the information we consume. High-quality, evidence-based sources are an essential ingredient—for ourselves and our communities.”. 

Editor's note: Views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the cited sources do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Integrative Practitioner.