MYTH #1: The COVID-19 vaccine is not safe because it was rapidly developed and tested.

FACT: mRNA vaccines have been studied for five years; this technology was not invented for the pandemic. The emergency situation warranted an emergency response but that does not mean that companies bypassed safety protocols or didn’t perform adequate testing. Animal studies were not bypassed, as is commonly claimed. No regulatory steps in the rigorous, transparent process of vaccine development were skipped. The vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTecH has been studied in approximately 43,000 people. The vaccine developed by Moderna has been studied in approximately 30,000 people. There were no specific safety concerns identified in either trial after following participants for 2-3 months following their second dose (at the time of FDA emergency use approval).

MYTH #2: The COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA.

FACT: mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and is basically the “instructions” for how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. The mRNA contained within the vaccine is degraded within hours. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease.

MYTH #3: COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.

FACT: Neither the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine nor the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal cells nor were fetal cells used the development or production of either vaccine.

MYTH #4: COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or miscarriage.

FACT: No, COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to infertility or miscarriage. A sophisticated disinformation campaign has been circulating online, claiming that antibodies to the spike protein of COVID-19 produced from these vaccines will bind to placental proteins and prevent pregnancy. This disinformation is thought to originate from internet postings by a former scientist known to hold anti-vaccine views.

These postings are not scientifically plausible, as COVID-19 infection has not been linked to infertility. Also, no other viral infection or vaccination-inducing immunity by similar mechanisms has been shown to cause infertility. Antibodies to the spike protein have not been linked to infertility after COVID-19 infection. There is no scientific reason to believe this will change after vaccination for COVID-19.

The best evidence comes from women who got sick with COVID-19 while pregnant. While data clearly indicate pregnant women are at higher risk of hospitalization, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation and death compared to nonpregnant peers due to COVID-19 infection, there is no evidence of increased miscarriage rates.

Furthermore, one of the vaccines was studied in a pregnant animal model. Female rats were given the vaccine prior to mating and during gestation periods and did not have any adverse effects on female reproduction, fetal/embryonal development, or postnatal development

During natural infection, the immune system generates the same antibodies to the spike protein that COVID-19 vaccines would. Thus, if COVID-19 affected fertility, there already would be an increase in miscarriage rates in women infected with COVID-19. This has not happened.

MYTH #5: The COVID-19 vaccine will cause autism or autism in my child if I were to become pregnant after receiving the vaccine.

FACT: Vaccines don’t cause autism.

This claim stems from a discredited and retracted study of 12 children in the 1990s that linked the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. The findings of this study were falsified and the physician is disbarred from practice. Unfortunately, this flawed study has kicked off a resilient storm of misinformation. Hundreds of studies across the globe have shown time and time again that there is no connection.

MYTH #6: I already had COVID19 and recovered, so I don’t need to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

FACT: At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from COVID-19 after being sick and reinfection has occurred. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. It is recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, even if you’ve had COVID-19 previously. However, those that had COVID-19 should delay vaccination until about 90 days from diagnosis or discuss with your doctor if you would like to receive the vaccine before 90 days has elapsed.

MYTH #7: The COVID-19 vaccine increases the risk of Guillan Barre Syndrome (GBS).

FACT: The yearly incidence of GBS in all people is 1-2 people per 100,000. It can be caused by bacterial or viral infections and has been reported following COVID-19 infection. There have been no reported cases of GBS following COVID-19 vaccination to date. Those with a history of GBS are recommended to receive the vaccine.

MYTH #8: The COVID-19 vaccine increases the risk of Bell’s palsy.

FACT: The yearly incidence of Bell’s palsy in all people is 23 people per 100,000. It can be caused by bacterial or viral infections and has been reported following COVID-19 infection. In the Pfizer trial, 4 vaccine recipients (out of approximately 43,000) had Bell’s palsy and in the Moderna trial 3 vaccine recipients (out of approximately 30,000) had Bell’s palsy. Therefore, incidence of Bell’s palsy in vaccine recipients is lower than the general population. People who have previously had Bell’s palsy are recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

MYTH #9: The side effects of the vaccine are not worth it; the mortality rate from COVID-19 is not really that high.

FACT: Circulating on social media is the claim that COVID-19’s mortality rate is 1%-2% and that people should not be vaccinated against a virus with a high survival rate. However, a 1% mortality rate is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. A 1% mortality rate in the US would equate to 3 million Americans deaths. In addition, the mortality rate can vary widely and is influenced by age, sex and underlying health condition.

While some people that receive the vaccine may develop symptoms as their immune system responds, remember that this is common when receiving any vaccine and not considered serious or life-threatening. The most common symptoms are: sore arm, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and fever which last 1-2 days, in most people. You cannot get COVID-19 infection from the COVID-19 vaccines.

It’s important to recognize that getting the vaccine is not just about survival from COVID-19. It’s about preventing spread of the virus to others, preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects and a return to normal. The benefits of getting the vaccine certainly outweigh the risks in almost all people
and will help keep you and your family healthy.

More information about the vaccine is available here. 

1. Polack FP, Thomas SJ, et al. Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine. N
Engl J Med 2020; 383:2603-2615.
2. Baden LR, El Sahly HM, et al. Efficacy and Safety of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine. N
Engl J Med 2020; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2035389
3. Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. COVID-19 dashboard by the Center
for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. 2020 
4. American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Clinical Practice Advisory: Vaccinating
Pregnant and Lactating Patients Against COVID-19. Dec 2020.
5. Taylor LE, Swerdfeder AL, Eslick GD. Vaccines are not associated with autism: an evidence-
based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies. Vaccine 2014; 32 (29):3623-9.

Category: COVID-19

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