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Top 10 COVID-19 Vaccine Myth & Facts

With recent approval from the FDA for immediate distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, questions and concerns are starting to float around the internet. We’ve done the research and are debunking common Covid-19 vaccine myths.

Myth #1: The vaccine is going to have side effects – both short-term and long-term.

Fact: All vaccines and drugs come with side effects. We are all unique in our genetic code which means everyone has a possibility of reacting to the same vaccine in a different way. This is why any new vaccine must undergo rigorous studies before it can be approved for common use.

Common side effects from a vaccine show that the body’s immune system is responding to the vaccine the way that it should – which means creating antibodies to resist infection from the real deal in the future.

MOST COMMON SIDE EFFECTS

According to the CDC, adverse reactions to the Covid-19 vaccines are usually mild to moderate in intensity and resolve within a few days. For both vaccines these include:

  • Pain at the injection site
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Muscle and joint pain

LONG TERM SIDE EFFECTS 

When a person receives a vaccine, it is much more likely that they will experience a complication or side effect within minutes to hours of receiving the vaccine (read more about Covid-19 vaccines and severe allergic reactions on the CDC’s website).  This is why when you receive a Covid-19 vaccine you are required to complete a waiting period to monitor you for any immediate side effects like a severe allergic reaction.

When you receive a vaccine your body immediately goes to work creating antibodies. As soon as enough antibodies have been created, the body stops working on its response to the vaccine. At this point, the vaccine has done what it needs to do and is no longer “active” in your system. While it seems like the Covid-19 vaccine was created and studied rather quickly, the months of data that we do have covers the period of time that a vaccine is still “active” in your system when potential adverse reactions could occur.

The FDA and CDC are continuing to monitor safety. The CDC has an independent group of experts that reviews all the safety data as it comes in and provides regular safety updates. If a safety issue is detected, immediate action will take place to determine if the issue is related to the Covid-19 vaccine and determine the best course of action [3].

Myth #2: I’m going to catch Covid-19 from the vaccine. 

Fact: The vaccines already approved by the FDA do not use live virus. While there are potential common side effects as outlined above, these are normal reactions of receiving a vaccine and not from being infected with Covid-19. It is possible, especially since the current vaccines must be given in two doses, several weeks apart, that you could become infected with Covid-19 or some other virus and get sick before your body has a chance to develop the antibodies it needs to ward off infection. 

The current FDA approved vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are mRNA vaccines. There is no chance that these vaccines can result in infection. Think of mRNA like instructions for the cell on how to make a piece of the “spike protein” that is unique to SARS-CoV-2. After the piece of the spike protein is made it causes the immune system to begin producing antibodies without entering the cell’s nucleus or affecting genetic material [2].

Myth #3: The vaccine was researched and made too fast to be effective.

Fact: Since President Trump launched Operation Warp Speed at the beginning of the Pandemic, research and clinical trials have been ongoing in the development of Covid-19 vaccines. The vaccines that have been approved for use have been tested in large clinical trials to make sure they meet safety standards and carefully reviewed by the FDA and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to make sure the expected benefits of the vaccine outweigh potential risks [3]. 

Furthermore, the Pfizer vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective [4] and the Moderna vaccine has been shown to be 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19 [5]. 

Myth #4: I have an underlying condition, a suppressed immune system, or I am pregnant/breastfeeding, therefore I shouldn’t get the vaccine.

Fact: If you are someone who falls into one of these groups, the CDC recommends that you should get the vaccine as soon as you are able. Contracting Covid-19 has far more high-level risks of developing complications from the virus for people in these groups than receiving the vaccine [6]. 

Remember, the Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are not made with live virus and therefore cannot give you Covid-19. 

Myth #5: If I already had Covid-19 there is no need to get the vaccine.

Fact: Researchers are still learning how long after infection of Covid-19 the body “hangs on” to the antibodies created from the infection. At this point there is not enough data to say, however, due to the fact that there are health risks at getting re-infected with Covid-19, people may be advised to get a Covid-19 vaccine even if they have had the virus before [7]. 

The CDC will keep the public informed as more information is gathered on both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity.

Myth #6: The Covid-19 vaccine is going to alter my DNA.

Fact: Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) to give our cells “blueprints” to send to the “factories” that will build the protein (antibodies) to protect us from Covid-19. mRNA never enters the center part of the cell where the DNA lives, which means mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way [7]. 

Myth #7: It is better to get Covid-19 than to get the vaccine.

Fact: While most people return to normal health after contracting Covid-19, some people have reported symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after illness. Contracting Covid-19 has the risk of developing symptoms that can turn into serious complications, let alone spreading it to others around you. 

Receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, on the other hand, will help your body create antibodies to protect you from ever contracting Covid-19, so you won’t have to face potential long-term effects from the disease, or spreading it to a friend or loved one who may develop severe symptoms.

COMMONLY REPORTED LONG-TERMS SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 [8]

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty with thinking and concentration (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Intermittent fever
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)

More serious long-term complications appear to be less common but have been reported. These have been noted to affect different organ systems in the body. These include:

  • Cardiovascular: inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Respiratory: lung function abnormalities
  • Renal: acute kidney injury
  • Dermatologic: rash, hair loss
  • Neurological: smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
  • Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood

Myth #8: After I am vaccinated, I don’t have to wear a mask any more or social distance myself. 

Fact: Yes, even after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, you will need to continue to wear a mask, social distance and make smart decisions. Even at a 95% effectiveness rate, that still means if everyone were to get the vaccine, about 5% of those people would not be protected from getting Covid-19. Furthermore, when you are out in public, you won’t know who has antibodies and who doesn’t. 

It is important that as a society we utilize all of the recommendations the CDC has (like wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands, staying home if you are sick, getting the vaccine, etc.) to fight Covid-19 so we can get past this disease as soon as possible. 

Myth #9: The Covid-19 vaccine is going to be used to track people.

Fact: There is nothing in the actual Covid-19 vaccines themselves that is going to allow the government or anyone else to track you. That is not only illegal, but impossible. 

Important information, on the other hand, like your name and other identifiers will be collected and sent to state immunization databases, just like any other routine vaccination you have had in the past [9].  

This data collection allows the CDC to continue to monitor safety, distribution, effectiveness, plus more. 

Myth #10: I won’t be able to afford the Covid-19 vaccine.

Fact: According to the CDC official website, “The federal government is committed to providing free or low-cost COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccine providers will be able to charge administration fees for giving or administering the shot to someone. Most public and private insurance companies will cover that fee so there is no cost for the person getting vaccinated. In addition, people without health insurance can get COVID-19 vaccines at no cost.”

BONUS

Myth #11: I have an egg allergy so I shouldn’t get the Covid-19 vaccine.

Fact: Neither the Pfizer vaccine nor the Moderna vaccine contain egg [10].

Myth #12: Covid-19 vaccines contain preservatives.

Fact: Pfizer and Moderna have reported that their vaccines contain no preservatives [10].

Written by Amanda Trickey, reviewed by Dr. Mark Feanny & Dr. Andrew Butler