Next Level’s Chief Medical Officer, Karen Rakers, MD is here to debunk some of the most popular COVID-19 vaccine myths circulating around the media.
Myth 1: The vaccine isn’t safe because it was rushed.
The COVID-19 vaccine was developed in record time, but it wasn’t “rushed.” This is in part due to the fact that scientists had been researching spike proteins in relation to coronaviruses for years. Additionally, most vaccines take a long time to develop, not because of research but because of grant applications and approval processes. The legal components associated with the COVID-19 vaccine were pushed through quickly due to the public health emergency. However, the vaccine itself still underwent stringent testing at each clinical trial phase the same way any other vaccine or medication would.
Myth 2: The vaccine goes against my religion because aborted fetal cells were used to make it.
Neither Pfizer nor Moderna used aborted fetal cells to create the COVID-19 vaccine.
Myth 3: I always get the flu when I get the flu vaccine. I’m going to get COVID-19 if I get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccines currently available do not contain any live virus, therefore can’t give you COVID-19. The vaccine does cause your body to mount an immune response which gets your body ready to react in case it encounters the actual COVID-19 virus in the future. This immune response can result in symptoms that are usually mild and short-lived.
Myth 4: The vaccine will alter my DNA.
The COVID-19 vaccine is made with mRNA which acts as a blueprint for our cells, letting them know how to create a shield against COVID-19. It never enters the nucleus of our cells where DNA is stored and therefore does not combine with our DNA. Additionally, mRNA is very fragile and degrades after about 72 hours in our system.
Myth 5: I had COVID-19 earlier in the year so I don’t need the vaccine.
Immunity from having actual COVID disease is thought to wane after about 3 months, therefore it is recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccine even if you have had COVID disease in the past.
Myth 6: I don’t think I need the COVID-19 vaccine because the survival rate is so high.
True, COVID-19 has a 99% survival rate, which sounds like pretty good odds. However, due to the long term effects that may arise as a result of COVID-19, survival does not always mean that the patient has a good outcome. Additionally, 1% of everyone that has gotten COVID-19 and died equates to over 1.3M deaths worldwide. With herd immunity, which has never been achieved in the U.S. without the aid of a vaccine, that number could have been reduced to 39,000 deaths (3% of 1.3M). Since the death toll from COVID-19 is rapidly rising as new strains emerge, it is imperative that we work quickly and efficiently to get the majority of our community vaccinated (ideally, 70%-90% of the population).
Myth 7: There are long-term effects that will arise from the COVID-19 vaccine.
No long term adverse effects have been reported after receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, many have reported long-term adverse effects associated with getting the COVID-19 virus, such as organ damage, blood vessel issues, and loss of taste and smell.
Myth 8: The COVID-19 vaccine will lead to infertility.
Although there is social media buzz regarding COVID-19 vaccines causing infertility, there is no scientific basis for this claim. Infertility is not known to result from COVID-19 disease, which indicates that an immune response to the virus, whether from natural infection or from vaccination, is not a cause of infertility.
Myth 9: Once I get the vaccine, I can hug all of my friends and family members.
The current recommendations are to continue to wear masks and socially distance since the data on spreading the virus after vaccination is still being evaluated.
Myth 10: The COVID-19 vaccine includes a tracking device used by the government.
This is simply not true. If the government wanted to track you, they would probably use an already existing platform like social media or cell phone usage.
Myth 11: The COVID-19 vaccine causes severe reactions in most people who get it.
The rate of severe reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine is extremely low. As with any substance introduced to the human body, allergic reactions including severe anaphylaxis can occur. Because of this, most vaccine providers are monitoring patients for 15-30 minutes following vaccination.
Myth 12: The COVID-19 vaccine means that everything will go back to normal in a few months.
Many experts believe that COVID-19 will become an endemic virus that we will have to deal with long term, similar to influenza. It will likely be many months before we fully understand how long we need to take precautions and determine if we will need booster doses of COVID-19 vaccination.
Moral of the story: The COVID-19 vaccine is not only safe, but highly effective. In fact, Moderna and Pfizer have proven to be 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 just 2 weeks after receipt of the second dose. If you were initially on the fence about getting the vaccine, we hope these explanations have helped to ease your concerns.
With over 70% of the US population now stating that they would get the COVID-19 vaccine, the new issue is when there will be enough vaccine for everyone who chooses to get it. For more information about vaccine distribution, click here.
Know of another COVID-19 vaccine myth you’d like debunked? Comment below!