It's been a few months since people around the world started receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. While experts have argued that the widespread rollout of the vaccine will help bring society back to its pre-pandemic normalcy, many people have been hesitant about receiving the vaccine, in part, due to widespread misinformation.
Here are a few common myths about the COVID-19 vaccine, based on information provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine gives you COVID-19.
TRUTH: The vaccine does not contain any live strains of the coronavirus, meaning the vaccine cannot infect you with it, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If you're feeling some side effects after getting a dose, such as fatigue, muscle aches or a fever, that's normal with any vaccine. Vaccines help your immune system recognize and fight off disease, and your body is responding to those changes.
MYTH: If someone gets the vaccine, they will test positive for COVID-19 when given a COVID-19 test.
TRUTH: Since there are no live strains of COVID-19 in the vaccine, you cannot test positive on viral tests. The CDC said viral tests are meant to detect current infections. If you're taking an antibody test, then the results will be different, according to Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, Davis Children’s Hospital. “You will test positive for antibodies because your body will have built them up as part of your immune response,” he said. “That’s a good thing.”
MYTH: People who get COVID-19 and recover don't need the vaccine.
TRUTH: You can develop some natural immunity after contracting COVID-19, but scientists don't know how long it lasts. According to the CDC, people who contracted COVID-19 once don't usually get it again within 90 days of the initial infection. However, while it's uncommon to contract the virus again, the agency warned "the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity."
The CDC also has more specific details about vaccination depending on how you were treated for COVID-19.
MYTH: People don't need to social distance or wear a mask after they get vaccinated.
TRUTH: Health experts say you don't immediately become immune as soon as you're vaccinated. In fact, you need two doses of the authorized vaccines (three to four weeks apart) for the best possible immunity if you're getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
“It takes at least a week to 10 days for your body to begin to develop antibodies, and then those antibodies continue to increase over the next several weeks,” Dr. Thaddeus Stappenbeck said, chairman of the Department of Inflammation and Immunity at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute.
Researchers haven't studied whether the vaccine prevents you from spreading the virus. So, experts advise people to continue wearing masks, washing hands, physically distance and other measures to protect others.
MYTH: The vaccine is not safe because it was developed quickly.
TRUTH: Improved or new technology-enabled researchers developed the COVID-19 vaccine in response to the pandemic. This does not mean they took any shortcuts or bypassed safety protocols to get it out the door.
The Cleveland Clinic said companies "put their vaccines through rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of volunteers." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and an independent panel of vaccine experts scrutinize the trials and data before making their decision.
MYTH: The vaccine will cause infertility or affect pregnancies.
TRUTH: You can still get the COVID-19 vaccine if you're pregnant or want to have a child down the road. According to the CDC, experts currently believe it's unlikely the vaccine poses a risk to pregnant women or the fetus. While there are active studies on potential vaccine side effects, no research has found that the vaccine affects fertility.
MYTH: The vaccine will alter the recipient's DNA.
TRUTH: Pfizer and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine has something called messenger RNA (mRNA). When injected into our bodies, it instructs our cells to take a piece of COVID-19's "spike" protein. This triggers your immune system to respond and fight the virus. Human cells break down mRNA after they finish delivering the instructions, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“Messenger RNA is something that’s made from DNA, but it’s not designed to integrate with our DNA, and it doesn’t permanently change our genome and who we are in any way,” Dr. Stappenbeck wrote.
As for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a genetically engineered form of the common cold virus is injected into a person's body. This altered virus infects cells and forces the body to build up the immune system, so when the coronavirus invades the body, it may be more equipped to fight it off.
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