Get the Facts about the COVID-19 Vaccine
There is a lot of information being released surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and where there are facts, there is bound to be some misinformation as well. Avni Jain, MD, family medicine physician with Adventist Medical Group sets the record straight by dispelling some of the myths that have surfaced since the development and the emergency use authorization (EUA) of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Myth: The vaccine was developed too quickly and isn’t safe.
Fact: The timeline seems rapid but the scientific and research communities have been studying and preparing for potential pandemics for many years. “Financial resources dedicated to a COVID-19 vaccine’s development helped the process move quickly. Researchers that had been studying mRNA vaccines for several years were able to build on this work and develop an mRNA vaccine specific to COVID-19,” says Dr. Jain. All vaccines must undergo strict safety standards and the COVID-19 vaccines have been studied in tens of thousands of people and they will continue to be monitored by the FDA, CDC and drug manufacturer after the EUA and approval.
Myth: I had COVID-19 and don’t need the vaccine.
Fact: Dr. Jain explains, “currently there is not enough information to know how long your immunity will last if you have had COVID-19, so it is best to get the vaccine.” In some cases, immunity from a vaccine is stronger than if you had the illness and could extend your immunity.
Myth: There are dangerous side effects.
Fact: The side effects from the vaccine are generally mild and typically start within a day of getting the vaccine and clear up within a few days. Side effects were recorded after both the first and second shots and can include:
- Injection site redness, pain and swelling
- Chills, fatigue, headache, fever, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, tiredness, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes
“Some people who receive the vaccine may develop symptoms as their immune system responds. It is important to remember that this is a natural reaction to any vaccine, is not life-threatening and you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine as it is not a live virus,” says Dr. Jain.
There have been reports of severe allergic reactions, but these are rare and could occur within a few minutes to one hour after receiving the shot.
The vaccine is important to help prevent the spread of the virus to others and prevent infection that can lead to negative long-term health effects.
Myth: The vaccine will give me COVID-19 or alter my DNA.
Fact: The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not use a live or weakened version of the virus and will not give you COVID-19. “These types of vaccines work by instructing cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response when you become infected with COVID-19,” explains Dr. Jain. As soon as the cells are finished using the code in the vaccine, your body destroys it. There is nothing that interacts with or injected into your DNA.
Myth: Once I get the vaccine, I won’t have to wear a mask.
Fact: While the vaccine prevents you from getting sick, it is unknown whether you can still carry and transmit the virus to others once you’ve been vaccinated. Dr. Jain adds, “continuing to take precautions of wearing a mask, social distancing and frequently washing hands must continue until we know more.”
The COVID-19 vaccine is a step to being able to see and spend time with friends and family and get back to work and school. The vaccine was developed with strict safety standards and studied in tens of thousands of people. The important thing to remember is, the CDC, FDA and drug manufacturer will all continue to study the vaccine even after it has been approved for use and not just for emergency use.