Fitness Facts: COVID-19 vaccine myth busters

By Connie Colbert
GCU Director of Health Services

Starting Wednesday, March 24, all people ages 16 and up will be eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine in Arizona. If you are having some doubts about getting the vaccine, here are some myth busters that may help make your decision easier.

Connie Colbert

MYTH: Development of the vaccine was rushed.

FACT: While it was done quickly, it was not rushed. The term “rushed” suggests something was done differently than normal or that corners were cut. In fact, tens of thousands of participants were studied in the safety and efficacy trials.

In a normal vaccine trial, enough people must get the disease to know whether the vaccine works. This often means waiting for a long time. With COVID-19, because the virus was so widespread and disease occurs soon after infection, it was possible to complete the studies much sooner. The development of these vaccines also was based on a wealth of scientific work that had been done previously in the laboratory and in animals.

The new technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA, is being used for the first time, but researchers actually have been working on this vaccine technology for more than three decades.

MYTH: mRNA cannot be trusted because it is a new type of vaccine.

FACT: Messenger RNA is a small molecule that is made by cells in your body and by bacteria and viruses. It is a blueprint for how to make a protein. The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines consist of mRNA that has been made in the lab. When it gets in your cells, the mRNA instructs them to make a version of the spike protein that SARS-CoV-2 makes. This small, harmless piece of the virus is not enough to cause COVID-19. This is just a clever way of introducing the spike protein into your body so the body can learn how to fight it off. It is similar in that way to a tetanus shot, where instead of mRNA you actually inject the tetanus protein.  

It is true that mRNA vaccines have not been widely used before, but these two vaccines have been tested in tens of thousands of people to demonstrate both safety and efficacy. We still need to determine the long-term efficacy and whether there are rare side effects when used in hundreds of millions of people. Currently, these vaccines are effective, safe and the best option to prevent millions of infections and deaths.

MYTH: These vaccines will alter my DNA.

FACT: The vaccines use mRNA to instruct our cells to make a piece of the coronavirus’ spike protein, eliciting an immune response. Once that is completed, our body breaks it down and gets rid of it.

MYTH: The second dose of the vaccine is not needed.

FACT: You need two doses of the vaccine because that is what was studied and shown to work for immunity. We do not know how effective or durable protection from a single dose would be. When you first get exposed to a vaccine or a foreign substance, your body generates cells that can recognize that foreign substance. The second time you get exposed, you develop a stronger immunity and build long-term immunity. What you generally find is, the response after the second dose is much larger in magnitude and longer lasting.

MYTH: People who have allergies should not get the vaccine.

FACT: Out of the tens of thousands of people who were tested in the initial COVID-19 vaccine trial, there were no serious adverse effects. Now that the vaccine has been given to a few million people in the U.S., there has been a very small number of adverse effects. Fewer than a dozen out of the one million who received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine experienced anaphylactic reactions. They recovered after treatment and had no long-term effects. There is always the possibility that as more people become immunized, we find some rare side effects.

If you have had a previous severe allergic reaction, such as face swelling, difficulty breathing or needing to be treated with an epi-pen after a vaccination, you should discuss with your doctor whether it’s safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Common allergies such as hay fever or food allergies are not a reason to avoid the vaccine. You have a greater chance of experiencing long-term side effects or dying from COVID-19 than experiencing an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

MYTH: You do not need to get the vaccine if you’ve already had COVID.

FACT: Those who already had COVID-19 should get vaccinated. Duration of immunity from natural infection of the virus is not known at this time. In some cases, people have reported getting COVID-19 twice. The CDC recommends getting the vaccine because of the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible.

MYTH: The vaccine can harm fertility or pregnancy.

FACT: There is no reason to think the vaccine will harm fertility, but it has not been tested in pregnant women. Pregnant women have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and there is a risk for moms transmitting COVID-19 to babies, likely after birth and not during pregnancy. Therefore, it could be beneficial to get the vaccine. Those who are pregnant should consult with their obstetrician and discuss whether the vaccine is appropriate for them.

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Bible Verse

Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he? (Isaiah 2:22)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/