COVID-19 vaccine myths: Get the truth
With COVID-19 vaccines now available, understanding what is true about the vaccine is important. A vaccine is key to helping end the pandemic, but misinformation could make people hesitant to get it. Infectious disease expert Helmut Albrecht, MD, addressed several of the myths going around about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The shot will alter my DNA.
The COVID-19 vaccine will never enter the nucleus of the cell. A cell’s nucleus is where our DNA are kept. This means the vaccine does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection or immunity to the disease.
The shot will give me COVID-19.
None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19. Therefore, the vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 or cause you to test positive for COVID-19. The vaccine also does not weaken your immune system, it makes your immune system stronger to help fight the virus.
The shot is not safe.
In very large clinical trials, consisting of over 80,000 total participants for the two current vaccines, the vaccine was very well tolerated and presented no safety concerns. That does not mean there are not temporary side effects that can be experienced. Most side effects were experienced around the injection site with mild arm discomfort. After the second dose, symptoms such as an elevated temperature, achiness and fatigue were experienced. These symptoms typically resolved within a couple days. Side effects like this are simply a result of your immune system working to generate protection against COVID-19.
The shot won’t protect me, I’m already healthy.
Healthy individuals can become infected with COVID-19 just as easily as those with health conditions and health concerns. While healthy individuals tend to do better when infected, COVID-19 can still cause significant disease and death in individuals not considered high risk. Healthy individuals can also transmit the infection to vulnerable populations and, therefore, should receive the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines are effective for all, including healthy individuals.
The shot contains toxic ingredients.
The COVID-19 vaccine contains harmless ingredients, including:
- mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) – The vaccinating agent.
- Some lipids – A fat layer that protects the mRNA until it gets into the cell, at which point the lipids dissolve into organic ingredients that are already found in our bodies.
- Very small amounts of the substances below, which are used to maintain pH and stability of the vaccine but dissolve in our bodies without a trace.
- Potassium chloride
- Monobasic potassium phosphate
- Sodium chloride (salt)
- Dibasic sodium phosphate dehydrate
If everyone around me gets vaccinated, then I don’t need to.
Vaccines do not save lives, vaccinations do. The more people vaccinated, the quicker and safer we can get to the end of this pandemic. The main threat to community protection will be unvaccinated individuals.
The flu shot I received will protect me against COVID-19.
While the virus that causes COVID-19 and the influenza virus are both transmitted from person to person through infectious droplets, the viruses are otherwise very different. A vaccine for one virus does not protect against the other virus at all.
I had COVID-19, so I don’t need the vaccine.
Individuals who have already experienced COVID-19 can still benefit from the COVID-19 vaccine as reinfection is possible. It is unknown how long immunity from having already experienced COVID-19 will last and that immunity varies from person to person.