COVID-19 Vaccination Facts and Myths

Why Get Vaccinated?

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. But they have other benefits, too:

COVID Vaccine Myths Versus Fact

MYTH: If I’ve already had COVID-19, I don’t need a vaccine.
FACT: People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.

There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long people are protected from getting COVID-19 after they have had it (natural immunity). Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, several subjects in the Pfizer trial who were previously infected got vaccinated without ill effects. Some scientists believe the vaccine offers better protection for coronavirus than natural infection.


MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine can affect women’s fertility.
FACT: The COVID-19 vaccine will not affect fertility. The truth is that the COVID-19 vaccine encourages the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the coronavirus’s surface. This “teaches” the body’s immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it.

Confusion arose when a false report surfaced on social media, saying that the spike protein on this coronavirus was the same as another spike protein called syncitin-1 that is involved in the growth and attachment of the placenta during pregnancy. The false report said that getting the COVID-19 vaccine would cause a woman’s body to fight this different spike protein and affect her fertility.

The two spike proteins are completely different and distinct, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect the fertility of women who are seeking to become pregnant, including through in vitro fertilization methods. During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 women volunteers involved in the study became pregnant, and the only one who suffered a pregnancy loss had not received the actual vaccine, but a placebo.

Getting COVID-19, on the other hand, can have potentially serious impact on pregnancy and the mother’s health. Learn more about coronavirus and pregnancy. Johns Hopkins Medicine encourages women to reach out to their medical providers to discuss other questions they have about COVID-19 as it
relates to fertility or pregnancy.


MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed too fast to be safe.
FACT: The technology used to develop the new mRNA COVID-19 vaccines isn’t new. It’s been studied and used for cancer research, and the original research on messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines is decades old. The other vaccine platform uses a weakened adenovirus, which has been studied extensively for other vaccines. Clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines were done with the same rigor applied to all vaccine trials, and the results were reviewed and approved by multiple independent advisory panels. Increased collaboration, use of new technology and more funding meant that vaccine developers could work quickly during this pandemic.


MYTH: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine gives you COVID-19.
FACT: The vaccine for COVID-19 cannot and will not give you COVID-19. The two authorized mRNA vaccines instruct your cells to reproduce a protein that is part of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which helps your body recognize and fight the virus, if it comes along. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain the SARS Co-2 virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The protein that helps your immune system recognize and fight the virus does not cause infection of any sort.


MYTH: The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are dangerous.
FACT: The COVID-19 vaccine can have side effects, but the vast majority are very short term —not serious or dangerous. The vaccine developers report that some people experience pain where they were injected; body aches; headaches or fever, lasting for a day or two. These are signs that the vaccine is working to stimulate your immune system. If symptoms persist beyond two days, you should call your doctor.

If you have allergies — especially severe ones that require you to carry an EpiPen — discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with your doctor, who can assess your risk and provide more information about if and how you can get vaccinated safely. There have been 15 cases of rare serious blood clots reported out of 8 million people who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. At this time, it is currently available, and the benefits are thought to outweigh the very rare risks.


MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine enters your cells and changes your DNA.
FACT: The two COVID-19 vaccines available to us are designed to help your body’s immune system fight the coronavirus. The messenger RNA from two of the first types of COVID-19 vaccines does enter cells, but not the nucleus of the cells where DNA resides. The mRNA does its job to cause the cell to make protein to stimulate the immune system, and then it quickly breaks down — without affecting your DNA.


MYTH: The messenger RNA technology used to make the COVID-19 vaccine is brand new.
FACT: The mRNA technology behind the new coronavirus vaccines have been in development for almost two decades. Vaccine makers created the technology to help them respond quickly to a new pandemic illness, such as COVID-19.


MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine was developed with or contains controversial substances.
FACT: The first two COVID-19 vaccines to be authorized by the FDA contain mRNA and other, normal vaccine ingredients, such as fats (which protect the mRNA), salts, as well as a small amount of sugar. These COVID-19 vaccines were not developed using fetal tissue, and they do not contain any material, such as implants, microchips or tracking devices.


MYTH: I should wait for the vaccine that is more effective.
FACT: All COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective options. There is no preference. The goal is to get everyone vaccinated, so it’s important to take the vaccine that is offered to you.


References:

John Hopkins Medicine:
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccines-myth-versus-fact

American Academy of Family Physicians:
https://www.aafp.org/dam/AAFP/documents/patient_care/public_health/COVID19-Vaccine-Myths.pdf

Center for Disease Control:
https://www.cdc.gov/sars/about/fs-sars.html