Myths vs Facts COVID-19 Vaccine

Myth: COVID-19 vaccines aren’t safe.

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and went through full review by experts.

Safety is a top priority of the U.S. vaccine safety development and approval process. The development process for COVID-19 vaccines involved several steps comparable with those used to develop other vaccines such as the flu or measles vaccine, which have successfully protected millions of people for decades. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as independent medical experts, have ensured that every detail of COVID-19 vaccines is thoroughly and rigorously evaluated. Evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work to prevent COVID-19. Of the first two vaccines to be granted FDA emergency use authorization, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective, and the Moderna vaccine was 94% effective in phase 3 clinical trials with more than 70,000 participants between the two studies.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccines were rushed; not thoroughly tested.

FACT: The COVID-19 vaccine development and clinical trials were thorough, and developed quickly thanks to streamlined processes and a worldwide effort.

There have been no shortcuts in the vaccine development process. The process has been quicker as a result of strategic efforts to run concurrent trial phases, as well as a commitment to help condense timelines and reduce or eliminate months-long waiting periods during which documents would be prepared or be waiting for review. Vaccine manufacturers and the scientific community dropped everything to develop a vaccine. The CEOs of AstraZeneca, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer, and Sanofi made a historic pledge to the world, outlining a united commitment to uphold the integrity of the scientific process as they work toward potential regulatory filings and approvals of the first COVID-19 vaccines. Although the COVID-19 vaccines themselves have been developed recently, the technology used in messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, like those developed by Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna, has been studied for decades and carried out in early-stage clinical trials for influenza, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). The missing link to developing this vaccine was learning the genomic sequence of the coronavirus.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines will alter my DNA or genetic makeup.

FACT: Receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA.

Messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where your DNA is kept, and therefore does not affect or interact with your DNA in any way. The mRNA from COVID-19 vaccines can most easily be described as a set of instructions for your body on how to make a harmless piece of “spike protein” to allow our immune systems to recognize that this protein doesn’t belong there and begin building an immune response and making antibodies. Essentially, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to the virus, giving your cells a blueprint of how to make antibodies. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccines will be mandatory for everyone in Pima County.

FACT: There is no government mandate to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pima County urges everyone to get the COVID vaccine to help us return back to normal sooner, but there is no government mandate to do so. However, this does not prevent businesses from requiring it for their employees similar to the flu shot or any other vaccines.

Myth: You can get the virus from COVID-19 vaccines.

FACT: The vaccines will not give you COVID-19.

None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development use the live virus that causes COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, vaccines. The goal of these COVID-19 vaccines is to teach our immune systems how to build a protein. In this case, it’s telling your body to make the spike protein that’s on the coronavirus. The proteins your body makes are solitary, and they do not connect or reproduce. Then your immune system recognizes the protein as foreign and develops antibodies to destroy it. Your immune system remembers the protein and is ready to attack and eliminate the virus that causes COVID-19. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination, and some vaccines require two doses. That means it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before, or just after, getting the vaccination and become sick, since it takes the vaccine time to provide protection. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

Myth: If I have recovered from COVID-19, I don’t need to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

FACT: People who have recovered from COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated.

At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19, and because re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

Myth: COVID-19 isn’t very serious, so I don’t need to get the vaccine.

FACT: The severity of COVID-19 symptoms varies widely and getting vaccinated can help prevent infection with COVID-19.

While many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness or die. There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you are not at increased risk of severe complications. Also, if you get COVID-19, you may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you while you are sick. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you by allowing your body to create an antibody response without having to experience sickness. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

Myth: You will get a positive COVID-19 viral test if you receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests.

The vaccines do not contain live virus and won’t cause you to test positive on a PCR or antigen test, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response, which is the goal of vaccination, there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Myth: Other vaccines, like the flu shot, will prevent COVID-19.

FACT: Only vaccines designed specifically to prevent COVID-19 will protect you from the virus.

Other vaccines, such as those for flu, measles, or other diseases, will not protect you from COVID-19. Only the vaccines designed specifically to protect you from COVID-19, once approved for use by the FDA, can prevent it. While a flu vaccine will not prevent you from getting COVID-19, it can prevent you from getting influenza (flu) at the same time as COVID-19.

Myth: There will not be enough vaccines for everyone.

FACT: As production of vaccine continues to grow, everyone in Pima County who chooses to get one will be able to do so.

The FDA has granted emergency use authorization for two COVID-19 vaccines so far. Initially, there will be a limited number of doses available, with prioritization of administration to populations at the highest risk. Pima County is committed to making the vaccine widely available, for those who want to receive it, as quickly as possible as supply increases. In time, as vaccine production ramps up and large quantities are available, every Pima County resident who chooses to do so will be able to get vaccinated. But as supply is limited, vaccine administration will target specific high-risk populations.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccines will implant tracking microchips in people.

FACT: Vaccine injections do not contain tracking microchips.

No vaccine injections or nasal sprays – including the shots for COVID-19 – contain microchips, nanochips, RFID trackers, or devices that would track or control your body in any way. Much like the way any shipment or delivery is tracked, shipments of vaccine doses will be monitored as they are shipped and administered across the country. However, the notion that these shots will contain tracking devices implanted into people is false.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or other serious medical problems.

FACT: The vaccines do not cause infertility and side effects, such as inflammation at the injection site, mean the vaccine is working.

In the Pfizer BioNTech phase 3 clinical trial of more than 43,000 individuals, and the Moderna Phase 3 clinical trial with 30,000 participants, no serious safety concerns were observed. The most common side effects were fatigue, headache, soreness or redness at the injection site, and muscle or joint pain. Side effects like these, while unpleasant, are a sign that your body is responding properly to create immunity from the virus that causes COVID-19.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal cells.

FACT: Fetal cells were not used in the development of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Fetal cells were not used in the design, development, or production of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

Myth: Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not get COVID-19 vaccines.

FACT: Pregnant and breastfeeding women may choose to be vaccinated.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has stated that people who are pregnant may choose to be vaccinated. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) Immunization, Infectious Disease, and Public Health Preparedness Expert Work Group prepared a thorough outline related to COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant and breastfeeding women. ACOG recommends that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP priority groups. The two vaccines currently available under emergency use authorization (EUA), Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, have not been tested in pregnant women. Therefore, there is no safety data specific to use in pregnancy. There is also no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating women or on the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or on milk production/excretion. The mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. The CDC states that people who are breastfeeding and are part of a group recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, such as healthcare personnel, may choose to be vaccinated.

Myth: Once I get a vaccine, I can stop wearing a mask and social distancing.

FACT: You should continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing even after being vaccinated.

The vaccine will protect you from getting ill from COVID-19, however, not enough is known about whether or not you can still carry the virus and spread it to others. At this time, those who get the vaccine should continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Myth: Vaccines cause autism.

FACT: Vaccines do not cause autism.

Studies conducted across the globe continue to show that there is no connection between autism and vaccines.

How do I know which sources of COVID-19 vaccine information are accurate?

It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust. The internet, unfortunately, can be filled with dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about the vaccines with trustworthy information. Learn more about finding credible vaccine information in this article from the CDC at

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), University of Maryland Medical System.

Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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