The unprecedented speed of the development of the vaccine to fight COVID-19 has led to several misconceptions and rumors that have created some skepticism among some Americans. AARP’s recent article entitled “7 Myths About Coronavirus Vaccines” provides some of the most prevalent coronavirus vaccine myths and the truth about the medicines that will fight COVID-19:
Myth #1: If you’ve had COVID-19 already, you don’t need to get vaccinated. Unsure. It’s not certain how long you are protected from COVID-19 after a previous infection (natural immunity).
Myth #2: Once you receive the coronavirus vaccine, you’re immune for life. Perhaps. It’s not yet clear how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine will last and if it’ll need to be administered more than once, or even on a regular basis, like the flu shot.
Myth #3: You can stop wearing your mask after you get vaccinated. Wrong. The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, we still need to end the pandemic, which will require mask wearing, social distancing, frequent handwashing and testing. It will take months to get the majority of Americans who want a coronavirus vaccine vaccinated, and until a good percentage of the population develops resistance to COVID-19 and so-called herd immunity is reached, the virus will continue to spread and sicken people. Protection also isn’t immediate. We also don’t know if the vaccine will block virus transmission.
Myth #4: The vaccines use a live version of the coronavirus. No. None of the vaccines in late-stage development in the U.S. use the live virus that causes COVID-19, the CDC says. The vaccine may cause side effects, such as injection site pain, fatigue, headaches, chills and muscle aches.
Myth #5: mRNA vaccines can change your DNA. No. Two of the four vaccine candidates in late-stage U.S. trials (the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was authorized by the federal government on Dec. 11, and the Moderna/NIH vaccine) use a new type of technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA for short. It is like an instruction manual that tells your body to build an immune response to a specific infection. There are now no licensed mRNA vaccines in the U.S., but a myth on social media claims that mRNA vaccines can alter human DNA. However, the CDC says this is not true.
Myth #6: You’re not required to get both doses of the two-dose vaccines. That’s incorrect. All but one of the vaccines require two doses that are administered a few weeks apart. Skipping the second shot isn’t wise. The CDC explains that the first shot starts building protection, then the second shot boosts that protection and “is needed to get the most protection the vaccine has to offer.”
Myth #7: If you got the flu shot recently, you don’t need a coronavirus vaccine. Not true! It is accurate that the flu and COVID-19 share a similar list of symptoms, but they’re two different illnesses, caused by two different viruses. You should get both types of vaccines.
Reference: AARP (Dec. 14, 2020) “7 Myths About Coronavirus Vaccines”