Written by Jacqueline Slobin, University of Virginia & Spencer Lee, New York University
There are currently two Covid-19 vaccines that have received FDA authorization in the United States: the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The U.S. has already purchased 100 million doses of each vaccine. Widespread vaccination coupled with social distancing and mask-wearing is the best way to end the pandemic and return to normal.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, which is making many people hesitant to receive it. While getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal choice, it is important to have accurate information when making that decision.
In this article, we debunk several myths regarding the safety of the vaccine and highlight some important Covid vaccine facts. See our article Is The COVID-19 Vaccine Safe for more information on this topic with input from medical doctors.
Myth: There are severe side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Truth: Although some recipients of the vaccine have experienced reactions, almost all side effects are short-lived and mild. Early studies of the Pfizer vaccine demonstrated that about 15% of people developed short lived symptoms at the site of injection and 50% of people developed system reactions that consisted primarily of headaches, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, or fever. These Covid-19 vaccine side effects are all normal and indicate that your immune system is responding to the vaccine to prevent future infections.
Myth: There are long-term side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Truth: Nobody has had the vaccine for more than 8 months, so the honest answer is that we don’t know yet. People that receive the vaccine are encouraged to report any strange symptoms they might experience, and scientists are actively tracking unusual disease patterns in vaccinated populations. The primary ingredients in the vaccines are mRNA, sugars, salt, and cholesterol. These are all naturally occurring chemicals in the body and are not expected to cause any adverse reactions or effects in the long-term.
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Myth: The coronavirus vaccine is not safe because it was developed so rapidly.
Truth: Many companies invested significant resources in order to quickly develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The severe nature of the global pandemic necessitated a timely response. Regardless, this does not mean that the pharmaceutical companies that developed COVID-19 vaccines ignored safety protocols and overlooked testing. The vaccines have no materials in them that would make them unsafe.
Further, in order to receive emergency use authorization, vaccine manufacturers are required to follow at least half of the study participants from the clinical trials for at least two months after completing the series of vaccinations, and in doing so, the vaccines needed to be proven safe and effective. In summary, there is no evidence that these vaccines are unsafe merely because they were developed rapidly.
Myth: I have allergies, so I cannot get the vaccine.
Truth: People with some severe allergies may experience Covid vaccine allergic reactions and should not get the vaccine.
You should not get the vaccine if:
- You have had an allergic reaction to any ingredients of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.
- You had a severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose.
You should consult your doctor if:
- You have had allergies (even if not severe) to other vaccines. Your doctor can help you decide whether it is safe for you to get vaccinated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deems it safe to get the vaccine if:
- You have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications such as foods, pets, venom, environmental pollutants, or latex allergies.
- You have a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergies.
Myth: There are animal products in the vaccine.
Truth: The COVID-19 is free from materials of animal origin and is synthesized via an efficient, cell-free process that does not require preservatives.
Myth: There is a microchip in the vaccine.
Truth: There is no evidence that there is a microchip in the vaccine.
Myth: I do not need to wear a mask or social distance after I get the vaccine.
Truth: It is going to take time for everyone to get the vaccine and for the entire population to be protected. Furthermore, it is unknown whether you can transmit the virus even if you are vaccinated. Thus, it is still recommended that you wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands — even if you have finished your vaccination series. Once we are able to vaccinate at least 75% of the U.S. population, social distancing and mask-wearing requirements will likely be relaxed.
Myth: I do not need to get the COVID vaccine because I already had COVID.
Truth: Being infected with COVID-19 may confer some immunity to the virus, but it has not been determined how much immunity infection confers and how long this immunity lasts. Therefore, it is recommended that even if you have been previously infected with COVID-19, you should still get the vaccine in order to build the strongest immune response against the virus.
Myth: The mRNA vaccines will alter my DNA.
Truth: The vaccine contains genetic material in the form of mRNA from the virus that causes COVID-19. The mRNA helps your body recognize the COVID-19 virus and produce an immune response. However, it is impossible for the Covid vaccine to alter your DNA. In fact, the mRNA cannot even enter the nucleus of your cells, where your DNA is stored.