As Covid-19 vaccination rates rise globally, some persons remain unsure if they want to be vaccinated. It may be because they are not aware of the benefits of the vaccine, read negative information on the internet and social media, or heard comments about it that are not supported by science.
To help debunk some of these myths, we are sharing some of the most common misconceptions about the Covid-19 vaccine and the corresponding science-backed answers. We will help you understand why you should get vaccinated to protect yourself from the new coronavirus, and why it is your social responsibility to do so.
Myth 1: Covid-19 vaccines were developed too quickly to be safe
Reality. Although the Covid-19 vaccine was developed in record time, this is due to several factors:
1. First, the crisis caused by the pandemic made it necessary to bring together many teams of scientists to work exclusively and full-time on developing the vaccine. This would not have been possible during normal times, as scientists are usually working on other research projects.
2. Secondly, it is important to stress that science and technology have come a long way in recent years, allowing scientists to obtain results in less time than expected. Scientists had also already established a solid basis for developing the vaccine before the pandemic.
So even though the vaccine was developed in record time, it is important to stress that it was subjected to all the required stages of clinical trials and authorization processes, which have proved its safety and efficacy.
Myth 2: Covid-19 vaccines can cause Covid-19
Reality. None of the authorized and recommended Covid-19 vaccines contains the live virus that causes the disease. This means that the vaccine cannot cause an infection.
The vaccines currently being distributed are designed to teach the immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes Covid-19. In some cases, this process can cause temporary symptoms like fever and fatigue. These symptoms are normal and signs that the body is developing protection against the new coronavirus.
It generally takes a few weeks after receiving the vaccine to develop immunity (protection against the virus that causes Covid-19). This means that it is possible for a person to become infected with the virus right before or after receiving the vaccine and still become ill. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.
Myth 3: The Covid-19 vaccine can alter your DNA
Reality. There are four (4) types of Covid-19 vaccines that have been developed:
- Messenger RNA (mRNA)
- Whole Virus
- Protein Subunit and
- Viral Vector
The mRNA and Viral Vector vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to cells to begin developing protection against the virus that causes Covid-19. This material does not enter into the cell’s nucleus, where your DNA is, which means that the genetic material in the vaccines does not affect or interact with the vaccinated individual’s DNA in any way. All Covid-19 vaccines work with the body’s natural defense mechanisms to develop immunity against infection safely.
Myth 4: The Covid-19 vaccine causes severe side effects
Reality. Serious side effects from the Covid-19 vaccine are very rare. There have been very few cases of serious allergic reactions to the Covid-19 vaccine, as well as coagulation disorders and cases of shingles (herpes Zoster) in those already infected with the virus, among others. These reactions are uncommon and are statistically insignificant among the millions of people who have been vaccinated across the world. This is why the CDC and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that even people who have a history of serious allergic reactions receive the vaccine as long as their allergies are not related to vaccines or injectable medications.
Rare side effects may occur in vaccine recipients and are specific to the type of vaccine given. Please ensure that you let your health provider counsel you on the side effects before taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Persons with comorbidities (e.g., Heart Disease, Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer) should consult their physician before taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
The most common side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine are fatigue, fever, headache, body ache, chills, nausea, diarrhea, and pain at the injection site. These symptoms generally disappear after 48 hours, according to the CDC and World Health Organization.
KEY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
What are the benefits of getting the Covid-19 vaccine?
The Covid-19 vaccines currently available provide between 70 and 94% protection from contracting the virus and developing the disease. The latest information obtained from scientific research and data collected worldwide shows that:
- If a person is vaccinated and does become infected with the virus, the vaccine will prevent them from developing a severe case of the disease.
- By getting vaccinated, you reduce your risk of disease, hospitalization, severe complications, and even death for both you and your loved ones.
Can vaccinated individuals still spread Covid-19?
Several real-world studies carried out in the USA, Israel, and the UK and other European countries have shown a drastic reduction in asymptomatic infection and virus transmission in vaccinated individuals.
Experts agree that people can confidently return to their normal daily activities after being vaccinated. However, they hope to have more information regarding safety levels in crowded indoor spaces with little ventilation in the upcoming months.
How much does the Covid-19 vaccine cost?
The Covid-19 vaccine is free for everyone, even if you do not have health insurance.
Can a non-resident of the United States be vaccinated when visiting the country?
Though the US government has not made any official statements regarding tourists receiving vaccines, vaccination centers in several states have begun applying the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to tourists and visitors without requesting proof of residence or citizenship. Most centers require an appointment. The official website https://www.vaccinations.gov contains a list of all the vaccination centers in the country.
Some official websites do not have a list of states where visitors and non-residents are eligible for vaccines and only provide information on vaccination centers, so it is always a good idea to double-check when making your appointment.
People traveling to the United States from abroad, including United States citizens, must show proof of a negative test for SARS-CoV-2 or documentation proving they have recovered from Covid-19 before boarding a flight to the United States.
Why are two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine required?
Most Covid-19 vaccines require two doses. Only the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be applied in a single dose.
The first dose begins to build protection, and the second dose applied two weeks later provides the highest level of protection offered by the vaccine. This is not exclusive to the Covid-19 vaccine. Many of the vaccines on the standard immunization schedule require two or even three doses to build long-term immunity, including the DTaP vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and the pneumonia vaccine.
What should I do if I do not get the second dose within 3 or 4 weeks?
The second Covid-19 vaccine should be administered as close as possible to the recommended interval of 3 or 4 weeks. However, the WHO has stated that this period can be extended by up to 42 days, or even 12 weeks for some vaccines, according to the latest information.
If a person receives the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine before or after the recommended period, the CDC states that it is unnecessary to start the series again. This may change as new information becomes available.
However, it is not recommended that people receive the second dose before the recommended period of 3 or 4 weeks or even 12 weeks. There is some data from some vaccines like the AstraZeneca vaccine, where delaying the second dose up to 12 weeks actually gives a better immune boost.
In terms of missing the second dose or being delayed, it is essential to get the second dose if the vaccine is a two-dose schedule. It does not matter if it is early by a few days or late by a few days or even a couple of weeks. It is important to go back and get that second dose because the first dose presents this new antigen to the immune system to prime it. The second dose is the one that really gives a boost to the immune system so that the antibody response, as well as T cell mediated response, they are very strong and they also develop a memory response, which then lasts for a long time, so that when the body sees this antigen again, this virus protein again, it knows that it needs to react quickly.
Can I get the first dose of the Covid-19 made by one manufacturer and the second from another?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Covid-19 vaccines not be combined. When you get the first dose of one brand, you should receive the same brand or product for the second.
There is not currently sufficient information available to determine if combining two vaccines is effective or not. This information may change, whether due to necessity, due to a shortage of one type of vaccine, or because of changes in their design.
How long does the immunity generated by the vaccine last?
Experts are not certain how long protection lasts, but some believe it may last at least a year and possibly even a lifetime. The Covid-19 vaccine provides protection by creating an antibody response (immune system) without infecting a person with the disease.
The duration of both natural immunity and the immunity produced by a vaccine are key areas experts continue to learn more about each day.
Scientists are working to determine if the Covid-19 vaccine provides long-term immunity or if it will be a seasonal vaccine, like the flu vaccine.
Why getting the vaccine is a social responsibility
Getting vaccinated is one of the many steps we can take to protect ourselves and others against Covid-19. This protection against Covid-19 is of the utmost importance because some individuals can become seriously ill or even die from the virus.
We must use all the tools available to us to stop the pandemic. Widespread vaccination generates what is known as herd immunity. The math is simple: the more vaccinated people, the greater protection we all have against the virus.
Being vaccinated not only protects you and others but also helps stop the virus from spreading because it no longer has hosts to infect.
Immuno-compromised persons should consult their doctor before taking the vaccine.
This is how we can stop the pandemic.
If I already had Covid-19, how long should I wait to receive the first dose of the vaccine?
One of the mysteries that science is working on solving is how long immunity against the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 lasts, whether this immunity is due to an infection or vaccination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people who received treatment for Covid-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma wait 90 days after treatment before receiving the first dose of the vaccine. Until more information is available, this safety measure is taken to avoid any possible interference between the antibody therapy and the immune system response caused by the vaccine.
Currently, under the WHO Emergency Use License (EUL), individuals who have previously been infected with COVID-19 are eligible to receive the vaccine. However, vaccination should be given at least 6 months after the COVID-19 infection.
If there are any questions about what kind of treatment patients may have received, they should talk to their doctor to determine when they should be vaccinated.
Experts are still collecting information to determine how long the protection against Covid-19 lasts in the real world now that widespread vaccination is occurring.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA)- Coronavirus Disease 2019
- University of Miami Health System
- London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
- Nature Weekly International Journal
- Johns Hopkins University/vaccines
- University of Michigan: Michigan Health Lab
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
- Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Health
- Who Health Organization
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