Myths and Facts About the COVID-19 Vaccine

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN on October 1, 2021
  • healthcare provider administering COVID-19 vaccine to man
    COVID-19 Vaccine Facts
    The United States has three COVID-19 vaccines. In December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to two COVID-19 vaccines and to a third in late February 2021. Healthcare workers and the elderly were the first groups to receive shots. Vaccination is a powerful weapon against COVID-19, but myths about the new COVID-19 vaccines started well before they were authorized and approved. Learn the truth behind these myths so you can make an informed decision about COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Middle aged man asleep in bed near clock
    Myth: You can get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
    Fact: You must be exposed to the novel coronavirus to get COVID-19. The U.S. COVID-19 vaccines 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. Immunocompromised people are at higher risk of developing COVID-19 if they are exposed to it because the vaccines do not trigger a good immune response in people with weakened immune systems. (Immunocompromised people can get an additional (third) dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.)
  • artist's concept of DNA molecule with individual chemical structures in the background
    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 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 also can't get a cold from the J&J vaccine because the cold virus is inactivated.
  • both wearing a disposable face mask, an elderly patient is listening to doctor's explanation about his diagnosis, treatment or consent form
    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. After infection, antibodies specific for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, remain in the body for several months. Similar to vaccination, natural infection also induces long-lived immune cells specific for targeting SARS-CoV-2. However, studies also show that vaccination greatly stimulates the amount of protective antibodies in people previously infected with the virus. Vaccination may double immunity to COVID-19 in previously infected people.
  • meeting with doctors and business people
    Myth: It’s too soon to know if the vaccine is safe.
    Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines were thoroughly tested in clinical trials and more than 213 million people in the U.S. have had at least one dose of vaccine. The FDA, CDC, and independent experts carefully review all safety and effectiveness data before authorizing or approving the vaccines for public use. These authorizations came 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. Learning more about the benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccines will help you make an informed decision.
  • Close-up of potential Covid-19 vaccines in vials in scientist's hands during research and development in laboratory
    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.
  • healthcare provider giving a senior woman a vaccination
    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 reactionsanaphylaxiswithin 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.
  • Scientist
    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.
  • Woman with face mask shopping at supermarket
    Myth: You can't get COVID-19 after vaccination.
    Fact: The COVID-19 vaccine is not 100% effective, so it's possible to get infected and sick with COVID-19.

    Two weeks after you receive the second Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or single J&J vaccine, you are considered fully vaccinated. In clinical trials and the months following the initial vaccine rollout, the Modern and Pfizer vaccines were 90% effective and the J&J vaccine more than 75% effective against COVID-19, even in preventing infection. However, the vaccines are not as effective against the COVID-19 Delta variant. It is also clear that protection against infection decreases with increasing time post-vaccination. The risk of infection is greater with the Delta variant, but all three vaccines reduce the risk of getting seriously ill with COVID-19. Booster vaccines, including the authorized Pfizer-BioNTech booster, strengthen immunity to Delta and possibly future variants.
  • young woman arriving at community clinic to get vaccinated, coronavirus concept.
    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.

    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

About The Author

Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN is a Registered Nurse-turned-writer. She’s also the creator of BuildingBoys.net and co-creator/co-host of the podcast On Boys: Real Talk about Parenting, Teaching & Reaching Tomorrow’s Men. Most recently, she is the author ofThe First-Time Mom's Guide to Raising Boys: Practical Advice for Your Son's Formative Years.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 13
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