COVID-19 Vaccine Myths Debunked
COVID-19 vaccines are becoming easier to access every day! But just like the rise in the number of Americans who are vaccinated, there has also been a rise in misinformation about the vaccine. Read the truth behind some common myths about the COVID-19 vaccines below.
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine causes breast cancer.
Fact: Patients who have had a COVID-19 vaccine may experience swelling in the lymph nodes in the underarm, near where they received the vaccine. The swelling is a normal sign that your body's immune system is building protection against COVID-19. It's possible that this swelling could cause a false reading on a mammogram; it is recommended to get your mammogram before being vaccinated or waiting four to six weeks after getting your COVID-19 vaccine.
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility in women.
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility AND there is no evidence that these vaccines cause problems with pregnancy. This incorrect myth derives from a theory by a German scientist that the vaccine might interfere with the protein syncytin-1 found on the human placenta because it has a slight structural similarity to the COVID-19 spike protein. IN FACT, these 2 proteins only have a 7% similarity, so this theory has been DEBUNKED. It would be like guessing 1 of 6 lottery numbers correctly.
Myth: If I’ve already had COVID-19, I don’t need to get the vaccine.
Fact: People who have already been sick with COVID-19 should still get vaccinated! There is not enough information to know how long you’re protected from natural immunity after getting sick with COVID-19, and prior infection with COVID-19 does NOT protect you from infection against the emerging variants of this virus. Therefore, due to the continued health risks associated with COVID-19 infection, it’s best to protect yourself with a vaccine. Talk to your physician if you have additional questions!
Myth: Getting the vaccine means I don’t need to wear a mask anymore.
Fact: In certain situations, this is true if you're fully vaccinated! You're considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or two weeks after your Johnson & Johnson dose. Current guidance from the CDC can be found here. Note: this guidance may change in the future depending on community spread, emerging variants and other factors. However, masks are still required in some instances, like at airports, on public transportation and in many healthcare settings. Village Health Partners still requires masks for patients and team members.
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine can make me sick with COVID-19.
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines can’t infect you with COVID-19! The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines contain mRNA which teaches your body to recognize the spike protein of the COVID-19 virus. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine contains an adenovirus that can’t replicate in your cells. None of the three vaccines can make you sick with COVID-19!
However, you may have side effects after receiving your vaccinations. This doesn’t mean you’re sick, but that the vaccine has prompted an immune response – which is a good thing!
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine changes your DNA.
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccine does not change your DNA. In the human body, the DNA manages cell replication within the nucleus of our cells. RNA stays outside the nucleus and has a totally different function of making proteins and enzymes that drive the many cell functions of our bodies. Specifically, the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) provide your cells with information on the spike protein, so your immune system knows how to fight it. In addition, the RNA and DNA components are comprised of different amino acid components. These COVID-19 vaccines do not change your DNA.
Myth: The technology in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines is new and can’t be trusted.
Fact: This technology has been around and studied for decades and millions of Americans have already been vaccinated with this technology! mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies and many veterinary vaccines. As we have seen, this pandemic reveals how quickly a virus spreads. Yet, making vaccines has always been a slow process. So, these mRNA vaccines are the result of a decades-long attempt to create a better technology to manufacture vaccines more rapidly. This is a huge achievement in medicine which has afforded us a key tool in fighting this pandemic.
Safety problems are rare and patients are monitored for 15-30 minutes in case of allergic reaction. Chance of blood clot from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also rare.
Myth: Thousands of people have died from receiving the COVID-19 vaccines according to the VAERS database.
Fact: The U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a database of unverified information. It serves as an early warning system to monitor adverse events after vaccination to continue vaccine safety monitoring. Currently, anyone can submit information to VAERS, regardless of if the event is related to the COVID-19 vaccinations. The CDC and FDA review every report of death in VAERS and there is no data to indicate an increased risk of death directly related to COVID-19 vaccines.
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