Myth: The vaccine was developed too fast to be considered safe.
The entire process went faster than usual for explainable reasons, but still followed the usual steps for testing and review. The most important reasons for speed: modern scientific tools are faster than old ones, and there was a worldwide effort to reduce or remove the usual barriers and delays in vaccine research, production and distribution. A large number of ordinary people volunteered for clinical trials of the vaccines, which meant we got the answers to key questions about safety and protection quickly.
The vaccines still received independent review and approval, under emergency rules put in place before this pandemic for situations where the public’s health is at serious and immediate risk, as it is now.
Myth: The vaccine will make me sick.
Tens of thousands of people have received the vaccines in clinical trials, and every day thousands more are getting it, now that the first two vaccines are approved. They are all being asked to track and report any symptoms they experience.
Just as with other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines can cause temporary effects soon after they enter the body and start teaching the immune system to go after the coronavirus. The most common reactions are headaches, arm pain, body aches, chills or fever lasting a few hours to a few days. Taking an over-the-counter painkiller can help ease these.
Health authorities have also reported a few cases of severe allergic reactions or a face-nerve condition called Bell’s palsy among the hundreds of thousands of people vaccinated so far. These were extremely rare, but they have received a lot of attention.
The COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain coronavirus, so the vaccinated person can’t get COVID-19 from the vaccine. But they or someone they live with might get sick from a virus or bacteria that they picked up around the time they got vaccinated.
Myth: The vaccine will damage my body later on.
No one has had the vaccine in their body for more than eight months (as of late December 2020), so the honest answer is we don’t know yet if these vaccines cause long-term problems. Only time and accurate tracking will tell for sure; scientists have to look for unusual patterns of disease in groups of vaccinated people.
That’s why everyone who gets vaccinated is being encouraged to track and report any symptoms they may feel in the short and long term, and to tell their health provider.
Health officials are already watching out for any patterns of problems that are out of the ordinary. So far, they have not seen any. But the scrutiny on these vaccines, and the fact that there are many more varieties of the COVID-19 vaccine now being tested, mean that we would have an early warning and alternatives.
Meanwhile, the threat of COVID-19 is very real right now. It is killing thousands of Americans every day, and leaving many others with lasting symptoms and disability from the disease.
Myth: The vaccine contains tracer technology.
There is no microchip, RFID device or other electronic device in the world that’s small enough to fit inside the needles used to inject vaccines. People with concerns about being traced or tracked should focus their concern on technology used in smartphones, social media sites and web browsers.
Myth: The vaccine was made from fetal cells, stem cells, or tissue from abortions.
No COVID-19 vaccine contains whole or partial human cells, or bits of tissue. Even if such things were useful as vaccines against coronavirus, which they’re not, they would also be too big to fit through the needle that is being used for COVID-19 vaccination.
It is true that some of the COVID-19 vaccines have been produced through research that involved cells from tissue obtained legally after an elective abortion carried out decades ago. Those cells were turned into a “cell line” – a research tool that scientists can use to study how viruses cause infection. But other COVID-19 vaccines did not use this cell line in the research process.
Religious leaders in several major faith groups have said that the use of this tissue is an acceptable tradeoff if it helps develop a vaccine that can prevent deaths and disease. But for people who are not comfortable receiving a COVID-19 vaccine that was developed through research involving these kinds of cells, there are vaccines that did not use this technique.
Myth: There is no point in getting the vaccine because there are already new mutations of COVID-19.
So far, COVID-19 vaccine makers say that the new mutations seen in the novel coronavirus have not “outsmarted” the vaccines.
Many harmful viruses can change over time as they hijack our cells (or the cells of animals) and fool them into making more copies of the virus that we can then transmit to other people or animals. This is why we have to have a new flu vaccine every year, to fine-tune it to the strains of influenza virus that are circulating.
The vaccines teach the body about multiple “spike” proteins on the virus surface, and those spikes are also what the virus uses to get inside our cells. So a change in one protein because of a mutation doesn’t automatically make the whole vaccine useless.
But it’s important for scientists to keep looking for mutations in the coronavirus that’s infecting people now. This will help them know if we need to change the current vaccines or make new vaccines against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, scientists are still studying whether changes in the coronavirus are making it more likely to spread, more likely to infect children and teenagers, or more likely to cause serious illness or death.
It will take time to find all these things out. That’s why it’s important to continue to wear masks in public, and stay away from large gatherings and unmasked interactions with people who don’t live with you.
Gavin, Kara. “Not Sure About the COVID-19 Vaccine? Get the Facts, Then Decide.” Health & Wellness Topics, Health Tips & Disease Prevention, 23 Dec. 2020, healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/not-sure-about-covid-19-vaccine-get-facts-then-decide#sideeffects.
Read more from Michigan Medicine here: https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/not-sure-about-covid-19-vaccine-get-facts-then-decide#sideeffects
"Like many individuals in our community, I was hesitant at first about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine mainly because of everything I was hearing about it. When I decided to read about the research done, the common myths, and the success rate of the research participants, I chose to go ahead and receive the vaccination when it became available to me. As a healthcare provider and Dean of Higher Ed, I felt it was important to do what I could to protect not only myself, but all those around me. I received the first vaccination two weeks ago and have had no unusual symptoms that could be related to the vaccination. I had no arm pain, no headaches, etc. I truly believe if everyone opts in to receiving the vaccine, we can control the virus at a much faster rate and return to the "normalcy" of our lives we all miss so much." - Dr. Danielle Vauclin, Dean of Nursing and Allied Health, Fletcher
"As an MLT instructor, I hear many people express concerns and fears about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. My own experience receiving the vaccine was very uneventful, and I recommend anyone with the opportunity to get the vaccine to do so as soon as they can." - Leah Gautreaux, MLT Director, Fletcher
"I decided to get the COVID vaccine, not for myself, but for my loved ones and for the patients I take care of everyday. I’m more concerned with possibly infecting them than getting sick myself." - Stacie Humphrey, Fletcher ASN student
"Doing my part on stopping the spread so I can continue my education and help others!" - Bailey Rogers, Fletcher Practical Nursing Student
"I decided to get this vaccine for my grandparents – my grandpa has diabetes, (and one of) my boyfriend’s grandparents has COPD. I also have a niece and nephew who are 3 years old and 1. I am around family who are all at risk to catch this virus, and by protecting myself, I am protecting them as well. I can now spend more time with them without having to worry about exposing them to this potentially deadly virus." - Reese Hankins, Fletcher Practical Nursing student
"As a nursing student, I feel it is very important to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Having safe interactions with people in the clinical setting is of utmost importance." - Robert Stutts, Fletcher Practical Nursing student
“You need to take the vaccine. I have cancer and I’m on chemotherapy and I am in a high risk group. I’m glad we had the event and it is a great learning opportunity.” - Dottie Landry, retired Fletcher Nursing Instructor.