Doctor debunks COVID-19 vaccine myths

Updated: Jan. 28, 2021 at 10:16 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Despite medical experts saying that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective, many people are still hesitant to get the shots because of various myths and false claims.

American Family Care Chief Medical Officer Dr. Benjamin Barlow is setting the record straight about some of the most common misconceptions about the COVID-19 Vaccine with the AFC COVID-19 Vaccine Health Quiz:

Myth #1: The vaccines were released so fast, they are unsafe. FALSE.

“I don’t believe that the timeline effects this at all,” Barlow said. “It’s just because of the dedication of those researchers to do this right in a short timeline.”

The vaccines being used have gone through rigorous studies to ensure they are as safe as possible, Barlow said. The CDC requires clinical trials for all vaccines before they can be authorized for use and the potential benefits of a vaccine must outweigh the potential risks before the CDC gives approval.

Myth #2: If you get vaccinated, they inject the COVID-19 live virus into your body. FALSE.

“When you get other vaccines, sometimes it’s the inactive virus in the vaccine, and they didn’t even do that with this one. It’s just this mRNA that tells your body how to make proteins that your antibodies will then fight off if you get COVID-19 in the future,” Barlow said.

The vaccines are made with mRNA technology which works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19, Barlow said. Sometimes when this happens, the process can cause symptoms like a fever or muscle aches. This is normal – and most importantly proof that the vaccine is working, building immunity to COVID-19.

Myth #3: You are not fully vaccinated until weeks after you receive a second dose. TRUE.

“After you get the first one, you start building antibodies. But then it’ll start to wean, and you’ll need that second one to really boost up that immune response again and then a period of weeks after you get to that full vaccinated status,” Barlow said.

One shot does not do the trick. The CDC states you must get two doses for the vaccine to work. You must wait to get the second dose three to four weeks after the first vaccination. Then it will take several weeks for the vaccination to build immunity in your system.

Myth #4: Testing positive for COVID-19 means you can skip the vaccine. FALSE.

“The recommendation now is even if you’ve had COVID-19, we’re gonna go ahead and recommend that you get the vaccine so that we know you’re covered,” Barlow said.

COVID-19 is so new, no one knows for sure how long natural immunity might last. Right now, evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon within the 90 days after someone is first infected with the coronavirus.

Myth #5: You can alter your DNA if you take either vaccine. FALSE.

“It doesn’t enter your cell where your DNA is, it’s not changing your DNA,” Barlow said.

Both vaccines authorized for emergency use (Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech) are classified as mRNA vaccines. Messenger RNA or mRNA vaccines do not change your DNA or interact with your DNA in any way. This kind of vaccine teaches your cells how to make a protein that triggers immunity. The mRNA does not enter the nucleus of a cell where DNA is kept.

Myth #6: Once I get a shot, I still need to wear a mask and stay six feet away from others. TRUE.

“There probably is still some degree of passing the virus even after you get vaccinated, so that’s why that recommendation is still there after people get vaccinated,” Barlow said.

Doctors recommend to keep wearing a mask, washing your hands and social distancing. Not everyone is able to get the vaccine at the same time, so it’s still important to protect yourself and others.

Myth #7: The vaccines will impact my ability to have children. FALSE.

Researchers with the CDC say it is unlikely that the COVID-19 vaccine will pose a risk to anyone who is trying to get pregnant now or in the future. They also say there is no proof that antibodies formed from a COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems for a pregnancy, and there is not evidence of any vaccine causing fertility problems.

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