It’s no secret that COVID-19 has taken the world by storm and destroyed the lives of so many people. Although this virus is nowhere near being eradicated, it is now 2021, and there are vaccines racing to save the public’s health. Maybe you or someone close to you has received the vaccine, which is fantastic! We are just at the forefront, though. Dr. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and chief medical advisor to President Biden, believes at least 70-85% of the US population needs to be fully vaccinated before most actions can return to normal. It may seem like we are almost there, since there have been almost 34 million doses administered (as of February 3, 2021), but only about 6 million Americans have had both doses. This is less than 2% of the US’s population. There is still a lot of work to be done, and many myths need to be debunked. So let’s get started.
MYTH: I got the flu shot and I don’t think it worked for me, so I don’t need to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
FACT: Although it is important to get the flu vaccine if possible (especially during a global pandemic), it reduces the risk of becoming ill with the flu about 40-60%. On the other hand, the CDC currently reports that the efficacy of preventing COVID-19 is 95.0% for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and 94.1% for the Moderna vaccine, when patients receive both doses. To put this into perspective, the smallpox vaccine is also 95% effective. Thanks to that vaccine, the CDC ruled in 1972 that smallpox was eradicated in America and has not posed a significant threat to public health since. If enough people are vaccinated quickly enough against the COVID-19 virus, then hopefully, similarly to smallpox, we will be able to eradicate this virus.
MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine is deadly, so I will probably die if I get the shot.
FACT: It is extremely unlikely that you will die from receiving the vaccine. In actuality, there is a much higher mortality rate associated with people that are infected with the virus than those that receive the vaccine. At this point in time, the information that the CDC has released shows over 400,000 people have died from the virus, putting the mortality rate at about 1.7%. On the other hand, the CDC has reported less than 200 deaths from the vaccine (over 60% of these deaths were people in long term care facilities), which puts the mortality rate at less than .001%.
MYTH: I will get sick with COVID-19 from receiving the vaccine.
FACT: Although some people report side effects, it is not possible for the COVID-19 vaccine itself to infect you with the virus. These vaccines are using an mRNA platform, so there is not even a live virus in the vaccine. You may become infected with the virus within a few weeks within receiving the vaccine, since it would take a few weeks to build immunity, but it is not possible for the vaccine itself to make you sick with the virus.
MYTH: I heard that this vaccine has something to do with mRNA, so it must be changing my DNA.
FACT: Although this vaccine does indeed use a messenger RNA (mRNA) platform, the vaccine cannot alter your DNA. After being injected into our body, mRNA vaccines tell our cells how to make a “spike protein” that can be found on the COVID-19 virus. Our immune system then reacts to the protein and begins creating antibodies for the virus, which teaches our body how to fight the COVID-19 virus if we come across it in the future. Throughout this process, the mRNA from the vaccine never even enters the nuclei of our cells, which is the location that houses our DNA. Therefore, it is not possible for these vaccines to interact with, let alone change, our DNA.
MYTH: If I have already had COVID, I do not need to get the vaccine.
FACT: Although there is some level of natural immunity that someone gains from contracting the virus, researchers have stated that early evidence indicates the natural immunity associated with COVID-19 may not last long. Accordingly, the CDC urges those who have been infected and recovered from the virus to still receive the vaccine, if possible.
For more details about the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, please see this link.
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