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Myth vs. Fact: COVID-19 Vaccines

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The conversations around the vaccines available for COVID-19 often have led many people to have concerns or receive misinformation on social media or from well-intentioned friends or family members. We've listed the top ten myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines and the facts, so you have the correct information to make the best choices possible for your health.


10.) The mRNA in the vaccine will affect your DNA.

First, some terms to know:

DNA: the double-stranded molecule that is used for storing and transferring genetic information.

RNA: single-stranded segment made from copying a strand of DNA.

mRNA: also known as messenger RNA, is an RNA that contains a set of instructions to make specific proteins.

The mRNA in the vaccine will not affect your DNA and only contains the information needed to instruct your immune response on fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

9.) If you've already had COVID-19, you don't need to get the vaccine.

While those recovering from COVID-19 do have natural antibodies present post-infection, the SARS-CoV-2 virus isn't like chickenpox (varicella), where once you have the virus, you are then immune. Currently, we do not know how long immunity lasts once someone has had the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is advised that those who have had COVID-19 get vaccinated as soon as it is possible and recommended to do so.

8.) The rate of survival for COVID-19 is high, so you don't need to get the vaccine.

The overall mortality rate for the SARS-CoV-2 virus is around 3.4% on average. However, we do not yet know the severity of long-term effects on our population. Many who survive the virus report lingering symptoms. These effects can range from minor impact on their daily lives (continued loss of smell or taste, loss of breath) to more severe effects (heart, cardiopulmonary, neurological, or other physical concerns). Receiving the vaccine helps reduce the chances of passing along the virus to others.

7.) There are serious or severe side effects associated with these vaccines.

According to a Food and Drug Administration analysis, redness or swelling at the injection site, fatigue, headache, chills, muscle pain, and joint pain are the most reported side effects. There is a very remote chance that the vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine - which is why we ask patients to remain for at least 10 minutes post-vaccination. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include difficulty breathing, swelling, fast heartbeat, a bad rash, dizziness, and weakness. This reaction is more common in those who have had severe allergic reactions to prior vaccines.

6.) We don't know what's in these vaccines.

Both vaccine manufacturers listed the complete ingredient list.

The Pfizer vaccine contains the following: mRNA, lipids ((4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate), 2 [(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide, 1,2-Distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine, and cholesterol), potassium chloride, monobasic potassium phosphate, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate, and sucrose.

The Moderna vaccine contains the following: messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids (SM-102, polyethylene glycol [PEG], 2000 dimyristoyl glycerol [DMG], cholesterol, and 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine [DSPC]), tromethamine, tromethamine hydrochloride, acetic acid, sodium acetate, and sucrose.

5.) These vaccines will make you infertile or will cause pregnant women to miscarry spontaneously.

The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended in a statement on December 13th, 2020, that the vaccine should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet the vaccination criteria based on ACIP-recommended priority groups. Further, this group has recommended that COVID-19 vaccines be offered to lactating individuals similar to non-lactating individuals when they meet the criteria for receiving the vaccine based on prioritization groups outlined by the ACIP.

4.) The vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.

Neither Pfizer's or Moderna's available vaccines used fetal tissue in their research and development or production phases.

3.) There are tracking devices in these vaccines.

Neither of the vaccines contains microchips or tracking devices.

2.) You do not need to wear a mask after receiving the vaccine.

According to the CDC, we simply don’t have enough information on the full efficacy of the vaccines to recommend not wearing masks or increasing close contact with others. As we gather more information via feedback in the vaccine process, experts can make better determinations as to how much protection the vaccines provide in real-world settings before making the decision to recommend not wearing masks or gathering socially.

While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic.

To protect yourself and others, follow these recommendations:

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others
  • Avoid crowds
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces
  • Wash your hands often

1.) These vaccines were rushed and are unsafe.

The process for approvals on both of these vaccines was able to be expedited due to the very nature of the mRNA technology of the vaccine. Since a version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus does not need to be introduced to the immune system, the approvals process could be more easily expedited. Further, the technology behind the mRNA has been in development since the late sixties, so it is not new and is able to move through the approvals process due to its history of research and development as well as the emergent need due to the pandemic.