Myths and Facts About the COVID-19 Vaccine
- COVID-19 Vaccine FactsIn December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency authorization to two COVID-19 vaccines. The first doses were administered to healthcare workers in mid-December; by January 2021, widespread vaccination of nursing home residents and healthcare personnel was underway nationwide. The FDA authorized a third COVID-19 vaccine in late February.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines and how they work so you can make an informed decision about COVID-19 vaccination.
- Myth: You can get COVID-19 from the vaccine.Fact: You must be exposed to the novel coronavirus to get COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccines being distributed in the United States do not contain any virus particles, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. After vaccination, some people develop a fever, muscle aches, headache, and fatigue—symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19. But, when these symptoms occur within three days of vaccination, they are almost always vaccine side effects. These side effects are a good sign the vaccine is working, as the symptoms are evidence that your body is developing an immune response.
If you get sick and test positive for the novel coronavirus soon after receiving the vaccine, it means you were exposed to the virus, such as being in close contact with an infected person.
- Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine will alter your DNA.Fact: None of the COVID-19 vaccines can alter your DNA, which contains the unique genetic code that makes you “you.” Two of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines; they contain a bit of RNA (ribonucleic acid) that teaches the cells of the body how to make a protein that causes the immune system to make COVID-19 antibodies. The mRNA vaccine delivers a “cheat code” to your immune system that shows it how to fight COVID-19. The vaccine does not interact with your DNA.
The third COVID-19 vaccine (by Johnson & Johnson) uses a harmless, inactivated cold virus to deliver instructions to make the coronavirus protein. It works differently than the mRNA vaccines, but the end result is the same: An immune system that will protect you from getting COVID-19 if you are exposed and infected with SARS-CoV-2. (You can't get a cold from the J&J vaccine because the cold virus is inactivated.)
- Myth: You don’t need the vaccine if you’ve already had COVID-19.Fact: Health experts recommend COVID-19 vaccination even for people who’ve survived COVID-19 infection. Although infection likely gives you some immunity to reinfection, no one knows how long that immunity lasts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that “early evidence suggests that natural immunity may not last very long.” Getting vaccinated may provide additional protection for you and help reduce the spread of the virus.
- Myth: It’s too soon to know if the vaccine is safe.Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines were thoroughly tested in clinical trials, and the FDA, CDC, and independent experts carefully reviewed all safety and effectiveness data before authorizing the vaccines for public use. These authorizations came relatively quickly for two reasons: 1) Scientists published the genetic code of the novel coronavirus within weeks of its discovery. This information allowed other scientists to rapidly produce vaccines because they’d already spent decades learning to make effective mRNA- and cold virus-based vaccines. 2) Due to the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts reviewed clinical data on the vaccines as soon as it was available.
- Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine includes a microchip.Fact: None of the COVID-19 vaccines contains a microchip. This misconception seems to have been fueled by a video featuring a vaccine manufacturer that can produce prefilled vaccine syringes with labels that include microchip technology. The presence of the chip in the label would allow healthcare workers to scan the label and confirm the vaccine’s expiration date. These kinds of chips are commonly used to track commercial merchandise and inventory.
- Myth: You shouldn’t get the vaccine if you’re allergic to eggs.Fact: The Pfizer, Moderna and J&J COVID-19 vaccines do not contain egg products, and eggs are not used to produce the vaccines. The CDC recommends that people with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines—such as food, pet, venom, environmental or latex allergies—get vaccinated for COVID-19. If you have a history of vaccine reactions, talk with your healthcare provider before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Some people have had serious allergic reactions—anaphylaxis—within about 15 minutes after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. It also occurred in one person in the J&J COVID-19 vaccine trial. Based on data so far, severe allergic reactions are rare. However, due to the risk of anaphylaxis, vaccination locations must have epinephrine and other medical supplies on hand to treat anaphylaxis. The healthcare provider administering your vaccine may ask you to wait 15 to 30 minutes for observation after you receive the vaccine.
- Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine contains aborted fetal cells.Fact: The authorized vaccines do not contain any fetal cells. During development of the vaccines, pharmaceutical companies tested the effectiveness of the vaccines in cells that were the descendants of fetal cells obtained from tissue taken during a 1973 elective abortion. No fetal cells are used to manufacture or produce the vaccines. No religious faith has expressed opposition to the COVID-19 vaccines.
- Myth: You don’t have to wear a mask after vaccination.Fact: Public mask-wearing should continue until the pandemic is under control.
It takes time to develop immunity after vaccination, so wearing a mask may protect you from infection while your body develops the antibodies and other substances needed to fight the novel coronavirus. We also don’t know yet if the vaccine can prevent spread of the coronavirus. Vaccination will likely keep you from getting sick with COVID-19, but it’s possible you could get infected with the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and spread it to others. Keep wearing a mask in public until public health officials say it’s safe to stop.
- Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility.Fact: There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes infertility or miscarriage, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that patients who are undergoing fertility treatment should be encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine based on eligibility criteria.
According to University of Missouri Health Care, “misinformation on social media suggests the vaccine trains the body to attack...a protein on the placenta;” however, this protein is different enough that COVID-19 vaccination will not affect it.
Myths & Facts About the COVID-19 Vaccine