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Myths versus Facts
Feeling anxious about getting a COVID-19 vaccine? There are many myths circulating at this time. It is important to rely on trusted sources and get the facts. Here are answers to frequently asked questions, based on information from Johns Hopkins, STAT News, Harvard Public Health and the New York Times. Have more on your mind? Fishing Partnership is here to help, Contact a Navigator.
MYTH: The vaccine hasn’t been studied enough – the process was rushed.
REALITY: The vaccines went through the regular three-stage scientific process, just like other vaccines and medications. Plus, the technology used for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines has been in development for decades; they were able to get to market quickly because governments and private companies poured money into testing it.
More Details on Why the COVID-19 Vaccine could be developed quickly.
Source is Johns Hopkins Website
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were created with a method that has been in development for years, so the companies could start developing vaccines quickly. Also, they use messenger RNA (mRNA), which can be modified more quickly than the materials used for previous vaccines.
The J&J vaccine also comes out of decades of research. This research uses a harmless type of virus – the adenovirus, which causes the common cold, among other conditions – to help trigger the body’s immune system to fight the coronavirus.
China shared genetic information about COVID-19 quickly, so scientists could start working on vaccines. The vaccine developers had a lot of money to fund their work, as the government invested in research and/or paid for doses ahead of time.
Social media helped vaccine developers find many people to participate in their trials quickly. Because COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, it didn’t take long to test whether the vaccines worked.
Companies made vaccines even before they were approved so they could start shipping them immediately upon approval.
MYTH: Getting the vaccine will give me COVID-19.
FACT: The approved vaccines tell your body to recognize and fight the coronavirus. They do not contain live virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
MYTH: The vaccine’s side effects are severe and dangerous.
FACT: Some people do experience pain at the injection site, body aches, headaches, chills, or fever. These are short-term – usually one or two days – and not dangerous. Symptoms are signs that the vaccine is working to activate your immune system. If you have a history of reactions to vaccines, or if you carry an EpiPen, talk to your doctor before getting vaccinated.
MYTH: I don’t need the vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19.
FACT: You should get vaccinated, even if you’ve had COVID. People can get re-infected with COVID, and it’s not clear how long immunity lasts after infection. If you had COVID-19, the CDC notes that there is no need to wait a certain amount of time to get vaccinated. Some scientists believe the vaccine offers better protection than natural infection.
MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccines change your DNA.
FACT: While mRNA from the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines enter cells, they do not go into the part of the cell with DNA. These vaccines do not impact your DNA at all.
MYTH: I can do whatever I want once I’m vaccinated.
FACT: This is a complicated question. Once enough people are vaccinated, life will look much more normal. However, right now, not enough people are vaccinated to make this possible. Also, we don’t yet know whether vaccinated people can spread COVID-19 to others and make them sick. So far, the early data is very encouraging: it shows that the vaccines stop at least some transmission. However, this won’t be settled for some time. For now, mask up around unvaccinated people to keep them safe (Source New York Times, 2/23/21).
MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine can harm women’s fertility.
FACT: The vaccines have no impact on fertility.
MYTH: It’s not safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to get the vaccines.
FACT: Numerous groups – including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine – agree that the COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to pregnant and breastfeeding individuals who are eligible for vaccination.
More Details for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Individuals
Other experts, including the World Health Organization, believe it is probably safe to get vaccinated if you’re breastfeeding. These recommendations balance the potential unknowns of the vaccine against the known fact that pregnancy raises a woman’s risk of getting severely ill if she contracts the coronavirus.
The vaccine trials did not include pregnant or breastfeeding women, on purpose. Those trials are just beginning. Other vaccines are recommended for use during pregnancy.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women are encouraged to contact their medical professionals to discuss vaccination.
Dive deeper and read this blog post from Harvard Health Publishing titled “Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding?”
MYTH: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are better than the Johnson & Johnson one.
FACT: J&J’s one-shot vaccine was tested after than the Pfizer and Moderna ones, and in countries where the newer variants are common. This may contribute to its lower efficacy than the first two approved vaccines in protecting against COVID-19. However, the J&J vaccine is still considered very good, as studies found it was 85% effective in protecting against severe disease and 100% effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths.