Misinformation surrounding vaccines is nothing new. Ever since the smallpox vaccine, there have been rumors and disinformation about vaccine safety and efficacy. With the coronavirus pandemic, the misinformation has exploded; there are myths about how it began, how you catch it, and the COVID-19 vaccines.
Here are seven common myths about the COVID-19 vaccines.
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed too quickly to be safe.
While many people have expressed concern at the quick rollout of the vaccines, people should understand that researchers did not start from scratch. Scientists have been studying coronaviruses for more than fifty years and mRNA, the foundation of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, for a decade.
The dangerous nature of the virus and its rapid spread across the globe spurred global cooperation for vaccine research, and much of the bureaucratic red tape that often causes delays were cut. However, the process of testing the vaccines was no less rigorous; they went through the same method of review and testing as other approved vaccines, but vaccine developers conducted some stages of the process simultaneously to gather as much data as quickly as possible.
Myth: You can get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. None of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the US contain the virus that causes COVID-19. After getting the shot, you may experience some side effects, including pain at the injection site, headaches, chills, fatigue, and muscle pain. Still, these are symptoms of your body’s reaction to the vaccine, not the virus.
Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine can alter your DNA.
COVID-19 vaccines will not and cannot alter your DNA. While both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines contain messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), the genetic material that our cells use to help the body recognize and fight back against the virus that causes COVID-19, mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. So, the vaccines cannot affect or interact with your DNA in any way.
To learn more, click here to watch Dr. Paul Offit explain why mRNA vaccines can’t alter a person’s DNA.
Myth: COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility and miscarriages.
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine causes any pregnancy problems, and there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccines. And a recent study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that the vaccines offer strong immunity to pregnant people.
Massachusetts General Hospital put together this Q&A about the COVID-19 vaccines for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Myth: COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.
None of the vaccines contain aborted fetal cells or tissue and used no fetal tissue in the development or production of the vaccines. While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine used lab-replicated fetal cell lines during its production process, the vaccine itself does not contain any fetal cells. These fetal cell lines were created in the 1970s and 1980s from two elective abortions unrelated to vaccine development. In the past, fetal cell lines have been used to create vaccines for diseases such as hepatitis A, rubella, and rabies.
Earlier this year, the Vatican released a statement saying that not only should Catholics get the COVID-19 vaccines, but Pope Francis said, “I believe that morally everyone must take the vaccine.”
Myth: If you’ve already had COVID-19, you don’t need the vaccine.
If you have recovered from COVID-19, you still need the vaccine. It is still not clear how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering. And while rare, it is possible to get infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Your best protection against getting sick, being hospitalized, or even death is with the COVID-19 vaccines.
For more information about COVID-19 and the vaccines, visit the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s resource library.