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COVID-19 Vaccine Series Part VI: COVID-19 Vaccine Myth Busting

The team at Hazel Health is here to help bust COVID-19 vaccine myths.
5 min read
• 
Published
February 15, 2021
Dr. Jill Lundstrom
Board-Certified Pediatrician
Dr. Jill earned her MD at the University of Massachusetts. She believes that all children deserve access to quality healthcare to learn and thrive.

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The COVID-19 vaccine has arrived! The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to end the pandemic. Still, you may feel nervous about getting the shots because there is a lot of misinformation and confusion about the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. The team at Hazel Health is here to help bust COVID-19 vaccine myths. 


1. Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe, and many people have already died from the vaccine trials.

Fact: The vaccine has shown to be very safe.

Explanation: The COVID-19 vaccines have had the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history. Millions of people in the US have gotten the COVID-19 vaccines and have mild side effects after the COVID-19 vaccination, like pain or swelling at the injection site, headaches, chills, or fever. 


No patients have died from receiving any of the vaccines during the trials. One patient in the AstraZeneca trial died, but this person received a placebo (a shot with no vaccine in it used to measure how effective the shot is), not the actual vaccine.


2. Myth: The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are much worse than having the virus.


Fact:
COVID-19 is unpredictable, and it can cause serious illness and death. The side effects caused by the vaccine are short-lived and similar to what we see with the flu shot. Severe reactions were very rare (<5 %).

Explanation: Based on safety data from nearly 40,000 people, the most common reactions were:

  • Soreness, pain, or redness at the injection site (84.1 %) 
  • Fatigue (62.9 %) 
  • Headache (55.1 %) 
  • Muscle pain (38.3 %) 
  • Chills (31.9 %)
  • Joint pain (23.6 %) 
  • Fever (14.2 %)

It’s important to remember that these side effects mean that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and creating antibodies against COVID-19.

3. Myth: If you have already had COVID-19, you don’t need to get the vaccine.

Fact: Even if you’ve already had COVID-19, you should get the vaccine.

Explanation: We still don’t know if you are protected from the virus after recovering from COVID-19. If you have had COVID-19 recently, you should not get the vaccine until about 90 days from diagnosis. 

If you have been recently exposed to someone who had COVID-19, you should wait until your quarantine period is over before getting the vaccine. This will help protect the people giving the vaccines.


4. Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine can change your DNA.

Fact: Getting a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine will not do anything to your DNA. 

Explanation: mRNA vaccines work by teaching the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The body will break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after using the instructions. Because mRNA are only temporary, they never interact with your DNA.

5. Myth: One COVID-19 shot is good enough. You don’t have to get the second shot.


Fact:
One dose of the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t provide full immunity to prevent COVID-19. To get the full effect of the vaccine, you need to get both shots.

Explanation: The first dose is a primer shot. It will prime your immune system and allow your body to react to the virus and create some memory. After the first shot, you will get a level of immunity, but we don't know how long that lasts.

The second dose is a booster shot. The second shot will help your body develop a full long-term memory of the virus.

The first dose is only 52% effective on its own. That’s why you need to get that second dose to get to 95% effectiveness.


6. Myth: People with allergies should not get the vaccine.

Fact: If you have allergies not related to vaccines (dander, food, latex, etc.), the CDC recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have had an allergic reaction to a vaccine before, you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe.

Explanation: So far, out of tens of thousands of people worldwide who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, three people reported severe allergic reactions. These cases are being evaluated to determine exactly what the reactions were and what (if any) allergies these people have had.

The CDC currently recommends that every person stays to get monitored for 15 minutes after getting vaccinated. If you have had a serious allergy from a vaccine or severe anaphylaxis, the CDC recommends staying for 30 minutes after your vaccine.


7. Myth: The vaccine will protect you 100% from COVID-19, including any virus mutations.

Fact: Nothing, including vaccines, is 100% effective. As we learn more about mutations and the virus, we will learn more about protecting ourselves until we achieve herd immunity. 


Explanation: Viruses often mutate over time and become new variants. There have been several COVID-19 variants worldwide, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. Scientists are learning new information about these variants, how easily they spread, and how effective the vaccine will be. As of now, the CDC has shared that there have not been any studies to suggest the vaccine is not effective against the new strains, but scientists will continue to conduct research. 


8. Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines must be stored at very low temperatures because they have so many preservatives.

Fact: Both vaccine makers (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) have reported no preservatives in the vaccines.


Explanation: The vaccines must be stored at ultracold temperatures because messenger RNA is fragile and can break down easily. Storing mRNA vaccines in extremely low temperatures will keep the vaccine stable and safe. 

Although we must store these vaccines at very low temperatures, you should not worry because the vaccines are thawed before you get them.


9. Myth: COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.

Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines were not created with, and do not require, fetal cell cultures in the production process.


10. Myth: You can stop wearing a mask after you get the vaccine.

Fact: Things will not go back to normal right away.


Explanation: It may take time for everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine to get one. Also, the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, but we don’t know whether you can still carry and transmit the virus to others after getting vaccinated.

Until we know more about how well the vaccine works, everyone should continue wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, and frequently washing their hands.

Be sure to join our weekly online Ask a Doctor chat to hear more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

The information in this blog is considered true and correct at the date of publication. Changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information.

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Parent Story
A father was concerned when his son was showing COVID-19 symptoms. His school uses Hazel, so he was able to contact a Hazel doctor from home.

The Hazel provider recommended he get a COVID-19 test and shared resources to help find a testing center in their area. The father was eager to help his son feel better and appreciated being able to quickly get answers and advice.
Nurse Story
A student came into the nurse's office with a sprained ankle. After icing her foot, she still was in pain, so the nurse called Hazel. Thankfully, her family had provided consent for over-the-counter pain relief because she was able to take some medicine and return to class feeling better.

After the visit, the Hazel provider reached out to the school nurse to check on the student’s injury. The nurse shared that the student’s ankle was improving, and she appreciated the follow-up.
Parent Story
A mother noticed her son was getting low on his asthma medication. She tried to schedule a visit with his doctor to refill his prescription, but no appointments were available. She didn’t want her son to run out of medicine, so she reached out to Hazel.

The provider was able to send the refill to a local pharmacy within one day. The mother was happy that her son would have the medicine he needed. She was also amazed at how easy and fast the entire process was.
Student Story
A student was coughing and sneezing a lot, but her family wasn’t sure if she was sick or had allergies. Thankfully, her school used Hazel, and they could get an answer.

After talking with the school nurse and the Hazel provider about her symptoms and medical history, the student was happy to find out it was likely allergies. She got some medicine and returned to class feeling better.