Let’s start with one of the scarier myths I’ve seen.
MYTH: The CV19 vaccine can affect female fertility.
FACT: The CV19 vaccine will not affect fertility. This vaccine enables the body to create “copies” of the spike protein found in the CV surface. The vaccine actually “teaches” the body’s immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it. (A spike protein is a highly glycosylated and large type I transmembrane fusion protein that is made up of 1,160 to 1,400 amino acids, depending upon the type of virus.)
The confusion about this 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. This false report also reported that getting the CV19 vaccine would cause a woman’s body to fight this different spike protein, subsequently affecting her fertility. These two spike proteins are completely different and distinct, and getting the CV19 vaccine will not affect the fertility of women who are seeking to become pregnant, including 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.
However, contracting CV19 can have a potentially serious impact on pregnancy and the mother’s health. Please reach out to your medical provider with any concerns.
MYTH: If I’ve already had CV19, I don’t need a vaccine.
FACT: People who have contracted CV19 still benefit from getting vaccinated. Due to the severe health risks associated with CV19 and the fact that re-infection is possible, people are usually advised to get a CV19 vaccine even if they have had the virus.
Data is still being collected and there is currently not enough information to say if or for how long people are protected from getting CV19 after they have had it (natural immunity). Early evidence does suggest that a natural immunity may not last very long, but more studies and data are needed before this can be confirmed. 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: Researchers rushed the development of the CV19 vaccine, so its effectiveness and safety cannot be trusted.
FACT: Studies found that the two initial vaccines are both about 95% effective — and reported no serious or life-threatening side effects. There are many reasons why the CV19 vaccines could be developed so quickly. I’ll list out a few:
- The CV19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were created with a method that has been in development for years, so the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic.
- China isolated and shared genetic information about CV19 promptly, so scientists could start working on vaccines.
- The vaccine developers didn’t skip any testing steps, but conducted some of the steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster.
- Vaccine projects had plenty of resources, because governments invested in research and/or paid for vaccines in advance.
- Some types of CV19 vaccines were created using messenger RNA (mRNA), which allows a faster approach than the traditional method in which vaccines are made.
- Social media helped companies find and engage study volunteers, and many were willing to help with CV19 vaccine research.
- Because CV19 is so contagious and widespread, it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated.
- Companies began making vaccines early in the process — even before FDA authorization — so some supplies were ready right when authorization occurred.
MYTH: Getting the CV19 vaccine means I can stop wearing my mask and taking precautions.
FACT: No. Anyone who receives the CV19 vaccination still needs to practice infection prevention precautions. Keep your mask on, and continue the 6 feet of social distancing from people outside your household, until further notice. Vaccines do not stop the coronavirus from entering your body; they only prevent you from developing moderate to severe CV19. It’s not yet clear if people vaccinated for CV19 can still carry and transmit the virus, even when they themselves don’t get sick. Better safe than sorry on this one.
MYTH: Getting the CV19 vaccine gives you CV19.
FACT: The vaccine for CV19 cannot and will not give you CV19. 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 CV19 vaccine does not contain the SARS-Co-2 virus, so you cannot get CV19 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 CV19 vaccine are dangerous.
FACT: Although there has been news of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine causing rare blood clots. This is being investigated and all Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been paused until further notice.
The Pfizer and Moderna CV19 vaccines can have side effects, but the vast majority is very short term, not serious or dangerous, and short-lived. 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, call your doctor. I did experience fatigue, chills, and a headache just shy of a migraine, but it only lasted 24 hours – almost to the minute.
If you have allergies — especially severe ones that require you to carry an EpiPen — discuss the CV19 vaccine with your doctor, who can assess your risk and provide more information about if and how you can get vaccinated safely.
MYTH: The CV19 vaccine enters your cells and changes your DNA.
FACT: The two CV19 vaccines available to us are designed to help the body’s immune system fight the coronavirus. The messenger RNA from two of the first types of CV19 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 CV19 vaccine is brand new.
FACT: The mRNA technology behind the new coronavirus vaccines has been in development for almost two decades. Vaccine makers created the technology to help them respond quickly to a new pandemic illness, such as CV19.
MYTH: The CV19 vaccine was developed with or contains controversial substances.
FACT: The first two CV19 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 CV19 vaccines were not developed using fetal tissue, and they do not contain any material, such as implants, microchips, or tracking devices.
MYTH: Now that we have a vaccine for CV19, we can make vaccines for the common cold, HIV, and other diseases.
FACT: The thousands of viruses that cause various diseases are very different. Many change (mutate) year by year, making it difficult to develop one vaccine that works for a long period of time.
Developing vaccines for some disease-causing viruses is tough. For example, the virus that causes HIV can hide and make itself undetectable by the human immune system, which makes creating a vaccine for it extremely difficult.
The common cold can be caused by any one of hundreds of different viruses, so a vaccine for just one of them would not be very effective.