COVID-19 Vaccine Myths Vs Reality

What Are the Facts About the COVID-19 Vaccines?

It’s only natural to have questions about the COVID-19 vaccines, and Baptist Health is here to assist in separating reality from rumor and myth.

Myth: Vaccines can cause you to develop COVID-19.

Reality: This is false. The COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. do not rely on a weakened version of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to trigger an immune response. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna utilize a very different germ-fighting strategy for initiating antibody production. Neither vaccine can result in the development of COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine utilizes an adenovirus-vector strategy, in which a dormant cold virus delivers genetic instructions to cells for building a spike protein found on SARS-CoV-2. The body’s immunological system responds to this spike protein by producing antibodies that will effectively block infection if the vaccinated person comes into contact with SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, this vaccine also cannot cause COVID-19. 

Myth: Vaccines can cause you to test positive for COVID-19.

Reality: Again, this is false, and for much the same reason. The vaccines available in the U.S. contain no SARS-CoV-2 variants, so it’s not possible for them to cause a positive result to a viral test. However, the presence of antibodies in the bloodstream, either from a previous infection or due to vaccination, can sometimes be detected in an antibody test.

Myth: To accelerate the development of the vaccines, safety protocols were ignored.

Reality: Despite the speed with which the vaccines were developed, no shortcuts were taken in judging their safety or effectiveness. All currently approved vaccines were fully tested according to the normal procedures of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which approves pharmaceutical products for release in the U.S. For example, more than 43,000 persons at 150 sites were involved in the randomized clinical trial for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine prior to its approval by the FDA.

Myth: Vaccine side effects are common and severe.

Reality: Data from the clinical trials contradict this. About 15 percent of all persons tested for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine developed irritation at the injection site; about half that number also experienced headaches, chills, muscle pain, or fever. These symptoms, which were mild and short-lived, indicated the successful initiation of an immune response to the vaccine. Severe side effects, such as severe allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis, have been extremely rare.

Myth: The vaccines alter your DNA.

Reality: This rumor has its origins in the fact that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both rely on a germ-fighting strategy that utilizes mRNA, which stands for “messenger-RNA”. Messenger-RNA is simply a set of instructions for building a protein, which becomes the source of the body’s immune response. Messenger-RNA interacts with cells but is incapable of entering them. This makes it impossible for it to alter a cell’s DNA, which is only found inside the cell.

Myth: The vaccines cause infertility.

Reality: There is currently no evidence for this. It began as a rumor, based on the supposed inclusion of a spike protein called syncytin-1 in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Regardless of whether syncytin-1 affects human fertility, it is not present in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Myth: The vaccines contain a microchip which will be used to track your movements.

Reality: This too is false. It has its origins in a statement that Microsoft founder Bill Gates made regarding digital certificates for vaccine records. There is nothing in the COVID-19 vaccines that enables high-tech tracking, remote data collection, or violations of personal privacy.

Myth: Once you’ve had COVID-19, vaccination is unnecessary.

Reality: There is no reason to consider this true. Though your body will have naturally developed antibodies in response to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we don’t yet know how long they will remain effective. Furthermore, there are already documented cases of individuals becoming ill multiple times with COVID-19.

Myth: Once you’ve been vaccinated, there is no reason to wear a mask or socially distance in public.

Reality: Public-health measures, such as masking and social distancing, remain important even if you’ve been immunized. Not everyone you meet will have been vaccinated and we don’t yet have a clear picture on how vaccination will impact the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Also, variants to COVID-19 have emerged, and protecting yourself and others through masking and distancing can only minimize the spread of these variants. 

Myth: The government is forcing everybody to get the vaccine.

Reality: There is no federal or state directive that makes vaccination mandatory. The reason for being vaccinated is to protect yourself and anyone else you contact against a potentially dangerous disease.

Helping End the COVID-19 Crisis

COVID-19 is one of the most serious medical challenges we have confronted and vaccination is recommended. To schedule a vaccine, contact your Primary Care provider. In addition, several pharmacies in the community are offering these services. Check availability at ky-covid-vaccine for Kentucky or for Indiana.