Vaccinating a high percentage of individuals against COVID-19 is a key component of the global strategy to diminish the effects of the virus that first appeared in late 2019. Since the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines began in the United States on December 14, 2020, more than 294 million doses have been administered, and more than 135 million people, or 41 percent of the total U.S. population, have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in May 2021.
As vaccine eligibility continues to open up and now includes children as young as 12 for certain vaccines, public health agencies are urging eligible people to get vaccinated. However, with myths continuing to circulate, individuals may need a little more reassurance that vaccination is the smart and safe choice.
The following information, courtesy of Johns Hopkins Medicine, the CDC, the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic Health System, can clear up some misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Myth #1: Because COVID-19 vaccines were rushed, they’re not safe and can’t be trusted. Fact: The vaccines were developed in record time but not because there were shortcuts in the process. Certain red tape was navigated more efficiently than it had been with past vaccines. Plus, the new technology at the center of the mRNA-based vaccines has been in development for more than three decades. The vaccine developers put the vaccines through rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of volunteers.
Myth #2: The vaccines affect fertility. Fact: COVID-19 vaccines encourage the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the surface of the coronavirus and “teach” the immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein. There was confusion when this spike protein was mistakenly reported as the same as another spike protein that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy. During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 female study volunteers became pregnant. The only one to suffer a pregnancy loss had received the placebo and not the vaccine.
Myth #3: COVID-19 vaccines will change my DNA. Fact: Both mRNA vaccines and viral vector vaccine, which is the technology for the Janssen vaccine, deliver genetic material to cells to start virus protection. The material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where DNA is stored. That means these vaccines do not alter or interact with DNA in any way.
Myth #4: These vaccines have severe side effects. Fact: Side effects to the vaccines are short-term, mild or moderate reactions that often resolve without complication or injury and include things like headache, body aches, fatigue, or mild fever. The Janssen/Johnson&Johnson vaccine has been linked to blood clots in a very small percentage of vaccine recipients, but the risk was so minimal that the vaccine was cleared for use after a brief pause.
Myth #5: The vaccines were made using controversial ingredients. Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines were not developed using fetal tissue, eggs, latex, or other allergens. In addition, they do not contain microchips or tracking devices. Millions of people have been vaccinated against COVID-19. To continue this public health initiative, people who may still be wary about the vaccines can learn more about them by speaking with their physicians.