Misinformation on the COVID-19 vaccines is prevalent, and it can be difficult to know what’s true and what’s not. Here, family physicians bust the most common COVID-19 vaccine myths.
Myth 1: You can delay routine vaccinations until the pandemic is over.
Routine childhood and adult vaccinations are an important part maintaining health. Vaccines prevent additional disease outbreaks during the pandemic. Talk with your family physician about concerns you have, and what vaccines you or your family need for the best protection.
Myth 2: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed too fast to be safe.
The technology used to develop the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines is not new; it has been extensively studied and used in cancer research. Additionally, mRNA vaccines have been studied for other infections including Zika, Rabies, and CMV. Read more from the CDC.
The other vaccine platform uses a weakened adenovirus, which has been studied extensively for other vaccines. The clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines were done with the same rigor as all vaccine trials and the results have been reviewed and approved by multiple independent advisory panels. The ability for the developers to be more efficient was due to increased collaboration, use of newer technology and funding due to the severity of the pandemic.
Myth 3: There weren’t enough participants in the clinical trials to say the vaccines are safe.
This is not true. The currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines enrolled tens of thousands of participants, many of whom were followed for two months after receiving the second vaccine. To receive an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), all COVID-19 vaccines must meet rigorous standards for safety and efficacy as outlined by the FDA. In August 2021, after extensive research and testing, the FDA gave full approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
After authorization, the CDC, FDA, and other groups continue actively monitoring for safety concerns. There have been a few cases of blood clots plus low platelet counts occurring after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, these are really rare (15 cases in 8 million doses) so the CDC continues to recommend the vaccine. Learn more about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Myth 4: I’ve already had COVID-19, so I don’t need to get the vaccine.
It’s unclear how long a natural infection with COVID-19 provides immunity from the disease. There are reports of individuals becoming reinfected, even after being ill with COVID-19. Individuals who have had COVID-19 are encouraged to get vaccinated once they have recovered and symptoms are no longer present.
Myth 5: The COVID-19 vaccines will alter my DNA.
This is not possible. Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines work in the cell’s cytoplasm and never enter the cell nucleus where the DNA, your genetic material, lives. Like all mRNA, it is 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 anyway.
Myth 6: COVID-19 vaccines will make me infertile.
There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy or getting pregnant. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems result from any other vaccines.
Myth 7: COVID-19 vaccines were developed to deliver a microchip into my body.
There is not a microchip in the vaccines. This rumor started after comments were made about digital vaccine records. States maintain electronic immunization records to help people and their physicians know which vaccines they have received. There are no electronic components in any of the vaccines.
The mRNA vaccines contain only mRNA, lipids (fat bubble), salts and other stabilizing agents, which are routinely used in other medicines. The other vaccines contain the non-replicating adenovirus vector and stabilizing agents.
Myth 8: I don’t need to wear a mask after I’m vaccinated.
The COVID-19 vaccines protect you from getting seriously ill from COVID. In July 2021, the CDC recommended masks for vaccinated people in certain areas of the U.S. to prevent the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. The Delta variant is highly contagious because it can replicate to high levels in the airways of infected people. This means that vaccinated people may be able to transmit the Delta variant at a similar rate as unvaccinated people.
You may want to wear masks and physical distance indoors and in big crowds to be cautious. This will also help protect people who can’t get vaccinated, like young children.
Myth 9: I only need one dose of the vaccine to be protected against COVID-19.
There is not enough data to support changing the recommendations on the COVID-19 vaccine schedule. You should get two doses of the mRNA vaccines to get the best protection.
Myth 10: I have to pay for the vaccine.
Anyone living in the U.S. can get the COVID-19 vaccine for free, even if you’re not a citizen or you don’t have health insurance.
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.