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COVID-19 Vaccine: MythBusters

As the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed across the United States, there is a great deal of misinformation surrounding the vaccine. To best inform our readers, we’ve compiled the most common myths surrounding the vaccine along with facts to debunk them.

Myth One: We can’t trust COVID-19 vaccines because they were rushed.

The first vaccines for COVID-19 do involve new technology, and they were developed in record time. But it’s not because there were shortcuts in the process.

The new technology at the center of Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines is called messenger RNA, or mRNA. While this is the first time it’s being widely used in a vaccine for the public, researchers have actually been working on this vaccine strategy for more than three decades.

Because of how prevalent COVID-19 is, it only took a few months for clinical trials to collect enough data to make an initial evaluation. The FDA, as well as an independent panel of vaccine experts, closely scrutinized the data from those trials and deemed Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines safe and effective for emergency use. Similar independent panels in several other countries agree.

Myth Two: The vaccine will give me COVID-19.

Vaccines prime your immune system to recognize and fight off a disease, but they don’t actually cause an infection.

The first two COVID-19 vaccines that are available in the U.S. contain a strand of genetic material called mRNA. When the mRNA enters your cells, it instructs them to make a piece of the “spike” protein that’s present on the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Those protein pieces don’t actually harm your body, but they do trigger your immune system to mount a response to fight them off.

You might have some fatigue, muscle aches, a headache or a fever after you get the vaccine. That’s normal with any vaccine – it’s a sign that your immune system is responding.

Myth Three: We don’t know what’s in these vaccines.

Both Pfizer and Moderna have published the ingredient lists for their vaccines. In addition to the star ingredient, the COVID-19 mRNA for the spike protein, both vaccines contain lipids (fats) that help deliver the mRNA into your cells and a few other common ingredients that help maintain the pH and stability of the vaccine. Despite theories circulated on the internet, they do not contain microchips or any form of tracking device.

Myth Four: Since COVID-19’s survival rate is so high; I don’t need a vaccine.

It’s true that most people who get COVID-19 are able to recover. But it’s also true that some people develop severe complications. So far, more than 1.7 million people around the world have died from COVID-19 – and that doesn’t account for people who survived but needed to be hospitalized. Because the disease can damage the lungs, heart and brain, it may also cause long-term health problems that experts are still working to understand.

There’s another reason to consider getting the vaccine: It protects those around you. Even if COVID-19 doesn’t make you very sick, you could pass it on to someone else who might be more severely affected. Widespread vaccination protects populations, including those who are most at risk and those who can’t be vaccinated. It will be important for ending the pandemic.

Myth Five: I’m Catholic and the church does not approve of the vaccine.

The Vatican has recently stated that receiving the COVID-19 is morally acceptable. Pope Francis approved this statement. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its own statement, which said that receiving one of the vaccines “ought to be understood as an act of charity toward the other members of our community” and “considered an act of love of our neighbor and part of our moral responsibility for the common good.”

Myth Six: The COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility.

False. During the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine study, there were 23 study participants who became pregnant during their vaccine trial. There was one pregnancy loss, but this was in a participant who received the placebo, not the vaccine.

Additionally, there is no evidence that acute COVID-19 infections cause infertility in the short- or long-term.

To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the CDC’s website or our dedicated COVID-19 vaccine webpage.

Do you have questions? We have answers.

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