COVID-19 Vaccine: Debunking the Myths


Chelcee Schleuger

GARNER – As the COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out across the nation several concerns have been expressed regarding its safety, side-effects and legitimacy. In a press release from Hancock County Health Systems, Chelcee Schleuger, Director of HCHS Community Health (Hancock County Public Health) wants to address these concerns in an effort help ensure people have accurate information.  

Following are the myths and facts of the COVID-19 vaccine according to the CDC, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Schleuger.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine isn’t safe because it was rapidly developed.

Fact: Many pharmaceutical companies invested significant resources into quickly developing a vaccine for COVID-19 because of the worldwide effects of the pandemic. The emergency situation warranted an emergency response, but that doesn’t mean that companies bypassed safety protocols or performed inadequate testing. 

There is consensus in the global medical community that these vaccines are safe. While there are many COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development, the Moderna vaccine has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA. 

To receive emergency use authorization, the biopharmaceutical manufacturer must have followed at least half of the study participants for at least two months after completing the vaccination series, and the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that population. 

In addition to the safety review by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization has convened a panel of experts to independently evaluate the safety data from the clinical trial. The safety of COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA. 

Myth: I already had COVID-19, so I don’t need to get the vaccine.

Fact: There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. This is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed. 

Health experts recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19 previously. People can get vaccinated if in quarantine after exposure as long as they are asymptomatic. If you currently have COVID-19 and have symptoms, you will need to wait 10 days and must have improved symptoms to receive the vaccine. 

Myth: There are severe side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. 

Fact: COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to have short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve without complication or injury. Among the first residents of Hancock County to receive the vaccine only a few have reported these mild side effects to HCHS Community Health: pain and redness at injection site. 

Keep in mind that these side effects indicate that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and are common when receiving vaccines. These side effects are commonly less severe than the symptoms of COVID-19 infection. 

Myth:I won’t need to wear a mask after I get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Fact: It may take time for everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccination to get one. Also, while the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown at this time if you can still carry and transmit the virus to others after vaccination. 

Until more is understood about how well the vaccine works, continuing with precautions such as mask-wearing, physical distancing and washing hands frequently will be important. 

Myth: More people will die as a result of a negative side effect to the COVID-19 vaccines than would actually die from the virus. 

Fact: There is a claim circulating on social media that COVID-19’s mortality rate is 1%-2% and that people should not be vaccinated against a virus with such a high survival rate. However, a 1% mortality rate is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. In addition, mortality rates can vary widely and is influenced by age, sex and underlying health conditions. 

While some people that receive the vaccine may develop symptoms as their immune system responds, remember that this is a common reaction when receiving any vaccine and these symptoms are not considered serious or life-threatening. You cannot get COVID-19 from the COVID-19 vaccines; they are inactivated vaccines, not live vaccines. 

It’s important to recognize that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is not just about survival from COVID-19. It’s about preventing spread of the virus to others and preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects. 

While no vaccine is 100% effective, they are far better than not getting vaccinated. The benefits outweigh the risks in healthy people. 

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine was developed as a way to control the general population either through microchip tracking or nano transducers in our brains. 

Fact: There is no vaccine “microchip,” and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database. This myth started after comments made by Bill Gates from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner, and is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA. 

Fact: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the first COVID-19 vaccines to reach the market, are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. According to the CDC, mRNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Injecting mRNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells. Human cells break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after they have finished using the instructions. 

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.

Fact: Current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were not created with and do not require the use of fetal cell cultures in the production process.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine can have an impact on fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding for women.

Fact: Health experts agree there’s no evidence that the vaccine can impact fertility or that it’s dangerous for pregnant women to get the vaccine because it’s only a tiny piece of genetic code that specifically targets the virus

South Carolina Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said the vaccine contains just a snippet of the genetic code for the spike protein from the virus, saying that the mRNA doesn’t get into your DNA or egg cells.

“This vaccine is just to that one paragraph, it’s like the intro,” Dr. Kelly said. “If you can make anti-bodies to that intro, then the virus can’t get into your cells, so I don’t see how this would have anything to do with infertility. It is just the instructions for making antibody to a single protein to this virus.”

It’s something that Medical University of South Carolina Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Krutika Kuppalli echoed: "There’s no way for that to affect your fertility,” Dr. Kuppalli said. “We are breaking it down very quickly and it’s only specific for the SPIKE protein for the coronavirus.”

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are encouraged to talk with their health care provider about the COVID-19 vaccine. 

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