COVID-19 Vaccine: Myth vs Fact

MYTH: I will have to pay for the COVID-19 vaccine or I need to have insurance.

FACT: No. All vaccines are free to the public under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security). Any charges that are incurred for administration of the vaccine will be paid by your insurance company or the federal government’s Provider Relief Fund. Adapted from: UT Southwester Medical Center.

If I’ve already had COVID-19, I don’t need a vaccine.

FACT: People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 should still receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, we do not know how long natural immunity, or immunity from having COVID-19, will last and it is possible to be re-infected. Additionally, some studies have suggested that the immunity from the vaccine is better protection than the natural protection. Clinical trials will continue to monitor patients over the next 2 years, and we should have additional data in the next 6 months.  Adapted from: American Academy of Family Physicians and John Hopkins Medicine.

The vaccine research was rushed, so it cannot be safe or effective.

FACT: There is a well-established testing and clinical trial process that must be followed for the FDA to consider approving a vaccine. No steps were rushed or skipped in the creation of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines were done with the same rigor applied to all vaccine trials, and the results were reviewed and approved by multiple independent advisory panels. Increased collaboration, use of new technology and more funding meant that vaccine developers could work quickly during this pandemic.

For these COVID-19 vaccines, the research was performed concurrently, rather than consecutively, and the wait times for review of the research were substantially reduced through Operation Warp Speed, a federal program that invested in development and manufacturing of the vaccines.  Adapted from: John Hopkins Medicine and UT Southwester Medical Center.

Political factors influenced the vaccine authorization process.

FACT: An independent board of experts reviewed the trial and testing data. Career scientists – not politicians – at the FDA review the clinical trial data after receiving the recommendation from the independent monitoring board. And all of the clinical trial information will also be published in peer-reviewed journals, so the process is transparent and verifiable.  Adapted from: UT Southwester Medical Center.

The COVID-19 vaccines contain a microchip.

FACT: No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any microchip or any electric components. This false rumor started after comments about digital vaccine records. State electronic immunization records help patients and physicians track vaccines they have received. There are no electronic components in the vaccines. The mRNA, lipids (fat bubble), salts and other stabilizing agents are routinely used in other medicines.  Adapted from: American Academy of Family Physicians.

: Getting the vaccine gives you COVID-19.

FACT: The vaccine for COVID-19 cannot give you COVID-19. The vaccine for COVID-19 cannot and will not give you COVID-19. The two authorized mRNA vaccines instruct your cells to reproduce a protein that is part of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which helps your body recognize and fight the virus. The COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not contain a live SARS-Co-2 virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.  Adapted from: John Hopkins Medicine.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines can change your DNA.

FACT: No. The vaccines are designed to help your body’s immune system recognize and fight the coronavirus. While messenger RNA does enter your cell to stimulate your immune system, it does not enter the nucleus, where DNA resides.

mRNA vaccines work in the cell’s cytoplasm and never enter the cell nucleus, where the DNA, your genetic material, lives. It’s broken down quickly once it enters the cell and delivers the needed vaccine “message” to the cell’s machinery. The virus spike protein is also rapidly broken down once there is no longer any mRNA. The adenovirus platform uses DNA encoding the spike protein which does enter the nucleus. However, it does not alter the cell’s DNA in any way.  Adapted from: American Academy of Family Physicians.

If I get a COVID-19 vaccine, I will test positive for the virus.

FACT: No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. Neither can any of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States.

If your body develops an immune response to vaccination, which is the goal, you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.  Adapted from: Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The side effects of the vaccine are dangerous and can affect a women’s fertility.

FACT: Most people who received the vaccine had no or little side effect to the vaccine. The most commonly reported side effect was pain at the injection site, fever, and headache lasting a day or two. In addition, the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect fertility. The COVID-19 vaccine encourages the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the surface of the coronavirus. This “teaches” the body’s immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it. While there are spike proteins that are involved in fertility, they are completely distinct and would not be affected by a COVID-19 vaccine.

The most common side effect is soreness at the injection site and headache, with most side effects lasting less than 48 hours. The reaction is typically a sign that the vaccine is working – triggering the immune response (or inflammation) indicating your body recognizes this virus and is mounting a protective response against it.

The clinical trials will continue to monitor patients for side effects long after patients are vaccinated.

Confusion regarding infertility arose when a false report surfaced on social media, saying that the spike protein on this coronavirus was the same as another spike protein called syncitin-1 that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy.

During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 women volunteers involved in the study became pregnant, and the only one who suffered a pregnancy loss had not received the actual vaccine, but a placebo. Getting COVID-19, on the other hand, can have potentially serious impact on pregnancy and the mother’s health.  Adapted from: John Hopkins Medicine.