4 Myths About the COVID-19 Vaccine That Aren’t True
As the first vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic get authorized for emergency use, hope finally seems to be rising. Millions of high-risk Americans are in line to get immunized against the virus.
However, the unprecedented speed of treatment development generated a lot of distrust among the general population. Much misinformation circulates online spaces, leading to scepticism and even refusal to receive shots in groups susceptible to such beliefs.
Let’s debunk some prevalent coronavirus vaccine myths you might hear.
Myth 1 – You Don’t Need a Vaccine If You Had COVID-19
Our bodies tend to build immunity to infectious diseases after we’re infected. That’s why vaccines that use live infections worked well in the past.
However, this pandemic is different. It’s still unclear how long your antibodies protect you from another COVID-19 after you go through it once.
The evidence even rejects the idea of natural immunity to some extent. It suggests that it’s relatively short, even without the viral strain mutations we saw recently, the CDC explains.
So, the general advice is that even those who’ve been sick before should get vaccinated, at least until researchers gather more data.
Myth 2 – Vaccines Grant Life-Long Immunity
The trials for two treatment options currently are yet to confirm protection duration. The possibilities are:
- It’ll have to get administered regularly, like the flu shot
- It could need a booster every few years
- It’s a once-off immunization
There are still no guarantees for either alternative. For one, it’s likely to take months before the majority of the population gets the vaccine. Meanwhile, the virus will continue spreading. Plus, the data is inconclusive about whether the immunization stops you from infecting other people.
For now, the vaccine is a tool to stop the spread. Other measures are necessary to bring the pandemic to an end, including masks, social distancing, washing your hands, and regular testing. While there could be a life-long safety mechanism in the future, this isn’t it.
Myth 3 – The Vaccines Infect You With the Coronavirus
The two vaccines in late-stage development use mRNA, copying the genetic markings of live coronavirus. However, neither uses the live virus itself, as the CDC confirms.
Instead, the leading candidates use techniques to trigger your body’s immune response by injecting a harmless virus piece, the spike protein. As a result, it produces antibodies to fight it off. The immune system eventually establishes memory, protecting you from future infections.
Pfizer uses a part of the live COVID cell, while Moderna created a copy in the lab, but neither contains the virus itself.
While the stories about side-effects could make it seem like you’re getting a light case of the disease, the symptoms go away shortly and are easy to alleviate with over-the-counter drugs.
Is the coronavirus vaccine safe and effective? Doctors on HealthTap weigh in by confirming both claims, encouraging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Myth 4 – If You Got Flu Shots, You’re Safe
The flu and COVID-19 indeed share many symptoms, making doctors confuse the new virus and the one we know during the early pandemic stages.
However, they’re different diseases with different viral causes. It’s not a matter of choosing one over the other, doctor Fauci clarifies. It’s your best bet to protect yourself from the flu and the coronavirus by receiving both shots.
Otherwise, it’s possible to get infected with both simultaneously, or it could be taxing for your body, especially the lungs.
The Bottom Line
Overall, more research and evidence is still necessary to guarantee 100% safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. Still, the myths circling the Internet are doing more harm than good. They might undermine the science and work that went into the development or even slow down the fight against the pandemic.
Don’t believe everything you read, but look into claims that seem shady. The law requires scientists to inform the public on the progress, making relevant data readily available. The choice of whether to receive a shot is yours, but get informed before making it.