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With the arrival of two COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use by the FDA, many MYTHS are circulating across the internet about the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines. 

Do you have questions? Let's debunk some disinformation — read the FACTS behind each myth for medically accurate, science-based information about the COVID-19 vaccines to help you make the best decision about your health.

Myth: The vaccine will give me COVID-19

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines teach your immune system to recognize and fight off the disease, but they don’t contain the actual virus or cause an infection.

Vaccines prepare 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. The mRNA enters the cells instructing them to produce a "spike" protein found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 virus. The body then recognizes the spike protein as an invader and begins producing antibodies against it. The cell then quickly breaks down the mRNA into harmless pieces If the antibodies later encounter the actual virus, they are ready to recognize and destroy it before it causes COVID-19 illness. 

The most common side effects after receiving the vaccine are soreness at the injection site (similar to the flu vaccine), which may last a few days and will go away by itself and/or mild symptoms like fatigue, muscle aches, headache or fever. These side effects are more common after the second injection, but they can occur with the first. That’s normal with any vaccine – it’s a sign that your immune system is responding!

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Myth: Since the COVID-19 survival rate is so high, I don’t need a vaccine

FACT: You don’t know how a COVID-19 infection will affect you — and vaccination can help limit the spread of the disease. 

 It’s true that most people who get COVID-19 do recover – but it’s also true that some people develop severe and life-threatening 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 or people who are permanently debilitated due to COVID-19 complications. 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 can protect those around you, including your family and friends. 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. Enough people getting vaccinated could end the pandemic!

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Myth: These vaccines will alter my DNA

FACT: Not true! The vaccines use mRNA to instruct our cells to spark an immune system response.  DNA is not involved.

The vaccines use mRNA to instruct our cells to make a piece of the coronavirus’s hallmark ‘spike protein’ in order to spark an immune system response. Once the lesson is over, our cells break down the mRNA and get rid of it. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine cannot enter the nucleus of a cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way.

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

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines use messenger RNA, which researchers have been studying and working with to create vaccines for more than 30 years. 

These COVID-19 vaccines used messenger RNA, or mRNA technology which researchers have been studying and working with to create vaccines for more than 30 years. The mRNA technology enables researchers to standardize and scale up vaccine production, which is why the COVID-19 vaccine developed faster than with traditional methods of making vaccines. mRNA vaccines have been studied before for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). The COVID-19 vaccine was developed in record time, but it’s not because there were shortcuts in the process. 

The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines went through rigorous clinical trials involving thousands of volunteers – people committed to finding a solution to fight COVID-19. The FDA, as well as an independent panel of vaccine experts in the United States and other countries, closely scrutinized the data from those trials and deemed these two vaccines safe and effective for emergency use.

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Myth: COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or miscarriage

Fact: No, COVID-19 vaccines have not been linked to infertility or miscarriage.  

This is a debunked claim that has gained traction around the internet. 

In fact, COVID-19 infection has not been linked to infertility. An antibody response to a COVID-19 infection has not been shown to cause infertility – and, there is no reason to believe this will change after vaccination. 

While there are no formal studies, the best evidence comes from people who got sick with COVID-19 while pregnant. While data clearly indicate pregnant people are at higher risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection, there is no evidence of increased miscarriage rates. 

During natural infection, the immune system generates the response that COVID-19 vaccines would. Thus, if COVID-19 affected fertility, there already would be an increase in miscarriage rates in people infected with COVID-19. This has not happened. 

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Myth: I am allergic to eggs so I shouldn't get the COVID-19 vaccine

Fact: The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines DO NOT contain eggs and eggs were not used to develop or produce these vaccines 

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines DO NOT contain eggs and eggs were not used the development or production of these vaccines. Early widespread vaccination has shown no major severe allergic reactions. However, those with severe allergic reactions to previous vaccines or any of the vaccine components are encouraged to remain after vaccination for 30 minutes for observation.  

Anyone with a history of immediate or severe allergic reaction to any component of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines including polysorbate or polyethylene glycol should not be vaccinated.

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Myth: The COVID-19 virus and COVID-19 vaccines are targeting communities of color.

FACT: Factors like systemic racism and economic inequity create barriers to care and societal conditions that make it more likely for people of color to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Vaccines are an effective defense against the spread of the disease.

No, the virus that causes COVID-19 is not targeting communities of color. However, many factors — especially systemic racism and racism in our health care system — means that people of color, especially Black and Latinx people, are infected and die from COVID-19 at rates up to 3 and 4 times more than white people. People of color face many barriers to accessing critical health care, lowering the chances of receiving timely, lifesaving treatment. Economic inequity caused by white supremacy in America means that communities of color often have fewer resources to fight the spread of COVID-19. And, people of color are more likely to work in service jobs as frontline essential workers, exponentially increasing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Vaccines have demonstrated 94-95% effectiveness in preventing COVID-19, which can help save lives in communities of color that are most impacted by the pandemic. Medical science has a painful and horrifying history of harm on Black, Latinx, Indigenous people and other communities of color. For many people, any health decision must weigh the rightful mistrust of a systemically racist industry whose legacy of abuse still haunts. PPSNE will center your health and provide the science-backed public health information you need to make the best decision about your health and to protect against illnesses like COVID-19.

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COVID-19: Stay Healthy

Learn how you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy during this global pandemic. 

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