6 myths about COVID-19 vaccines

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Many people are still hesitant about whether to get vaccinated or not despite the fact that the number of new cases has continuously decreased along with the COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. This is because there are many myths that are being spread widely on social networks. This article will summarize the 6 most common myths and expert explanations for your reference.

Myth #1: COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility

This is a rumor that makes infectious disease specialists especially concerned. Dr. Adalja, USA confirmed that this is completely fabricated information without foundation.

To shed light on this, we need to look back at the vaccine’s mechanism of action.

  • Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has the same mechanism of action as traditional vaccines. This vaccine uses adenovirus, which commonly causes colds, to be modified to carry the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 (the spike protein is the most important surface protein the virus uses to bind to receptors on the host cell surface and penetrate). This adenovirus cannot replicate in the human body so it will not cause disease. When vaccinated, the modified virus is pulled into the body’s cells, from where it travels to any cell nucleus. There, the adenovirus leaves DNA on the nucleus, the cell reads the spike protein gene, and the information about that gene is copied to the mRNA. The cells will begin to produce spike protein. Once the spike proteins are recognized by the immune system, the body produces antibodies.
  • Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines use a newer technology called mRNA (messenger RNA). These mRNA vaccines use spike protein fragments from the virus that have been encoded to stimulate the body’s immune response to produce antibodies. That spike protein and mRNA will be eliminated by the body over time, but the antibodies will remain.

The above myth seems to stem from a false information that the vaccine contains a spike protein called syncytin-1, which is tied to the function of the placenta, which is the organ that provides nutrients to the fetus pregnancy. But this information is completely untrue. As the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 is not the same as syncytin-1, and there is no evidence that blocking syncytin-1 can cause infertility.

To disprove this myth, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement stating that, “according to the vaccine’s mechanism of action and safety profile in non-pregnant female subjects, the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine -19 such as those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna do not increase the risk of infertility, and the viruses in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine do not have the ability to replicate in cells and cannot cause disease or alter the DNA of the vaccinated person, and not the cause of infertility.”

Myth #2: If you’ve had COVID-19 you don’t need to get vaccinated

CDC recommends that you still get vaccinated even if you’ve had COVID-19. Because no one knows how long you can be protected from the virus after treatment clears. Furthermore, vaccines stimulate an immune response better than the virus itself, so getting vaccinated will give you better protection. In addition, vaccines also help protect against virus variants.

Myth #3: No need to wear a mask after getting the COVID-19 vaccine

This myth is partly based on truth. Because CDC recently issued guidance for people who are fully vaccinated, that people who have had two doses of Moderna/Pfizer vaccine or 1 dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after waiting for the vaccine to take effect, may not need to wear a mask in the following cases:

  • Stay indoors with people who are fully vaccinated.
  • Stay at home with another family’s unvaccinated people, as long as those people are considered to be at low risk for severe complications from COVID-19.

However, CDC also emphasizes that when in public or in gatherings with unvaccinated people from more than 1 other family. Because at this time the effectiveness of the vaccine has not been determined against virus variants and whether you can pass the virus on to others after being vaccinated.

Myth #4: The COVID-19 vaccine will either introduce the virus into your body or cause you to test positive for the virus

In truth, it is not possible. There are no COVID-19 vaccines that can cause a person to get COVID-19. Because vaccines contain only the code to make the body produce the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 or contain a modified virus that carries the code for the spike protein – no vaccines contain the virus SARS-CoV-2.

Myth #5: Vaccines are rushed to market, so safety cannot be trusted

While the COVID-19 vaccine is the fastest researched, developed and put into use vaccine ever, it has also gone through rigorous procedures, and everything is satisfactory.

All COVID-19 vaccines licensed in the US undergo rigorous development by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including research and development, and preclinical testing, 3 phases of clinical trial and approval by FDA.

It is also important to note that mRNA technology has been around for the past decade and has been studied with influenza, Zika, rabies and CMV viruses before. We can completely trust the safety of vaccines.

Myth #6: The COVID-19 vaccine will change your DNA

Dr. Adalja stated, this is just a baseless assertion. In order to change DNA, it must penetrate the nuclear membrane of the cell. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t even get close to DNA at the cellular level, so it’s completely biologically unfeasible.

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