Fact vs. Fiction: COVID-19 Vaccine

Fact vs. Fiction: COVID-19 Vaccine

Photograph courtesy of PAHO.org

Ever since the COVID-19 vaccine was introduced, it has taken some individuals a little more time than others to become comfortable with the idea of the vaccine. A growing population of individuals, however, has taken this to a new level, developing and subscribing to conspiracies. This means that there is now, more than ever, a need to distinguish between what is fact and what is fiction. With this in mind, the difference needs to be made clear. Thus, here are a few pieces of fiction and some of the most important facts about the vaccine and vaccination process.

FICTION: Wearing a mask is no longer necessary once you have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Once vaccinated, people are safe enough to not need a mask anymore.

FACT: The precautions that are advised by the CDC maintain that it is important to continue wearing a mask and washing hands when interacting with others. If the other present individuals have also been vaccinated, the precautions may be reduced. However, there must be certainty of their vaccination status. This is because there is still a chance to contract COVID-19 once vaccinated, and this can put unvaccinated individuals at risk if precautions are not followed. The efficacy rate, or the chance of getting COVID-19 after the vaccine, is incredibly low with both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. However, safety should still be maintained until enough individuals are vaccinated.

FICTION: There are controversial substances in the COVID-19 vaccine that will make you sick or give you the coronavirus, such as fetal tissue, implants, or microchips. The government would utilize the vaccines to harm US citizens, since they are so widely distributed.

FACT: This myth often is the reason that individuals will postpone getting their shots or refuse them entirely. The reality, however, is that it is impossible for the COVID-19 vaccine to give someone the virus. Hackensack Meridian Health details that the general contents of the available COVID-19 vaccines; The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine contains mRNA, being the only active ingredient in the vaccine, and it is important to note that the mRNA is released into the cytoplasm of the cell rather than the nucleus, making it impossible for it to convert or alter the DNA. This vaccine also contains lipids meant to protect the mRNA for entry into the cell cytoplasm, salts to balance the acidity in the body, and sugar to help the molecules maintain their shape during freezing prior to vaccine usage. The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine contains mRNA as well, meant to build antibodies against the virus, and lipids for vaccine delivery into the cells. This vaccine also includes acids, acid stabilizers, salts, and sugar, all with the intention to maintain the vaccine stability. Lastly, the Johnson & Johnson Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine contains “recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein,” which is essentially just a harmless, modified version of a virus known as Adenovirus 26. What this does is help the body produce the coronavirus spike protein, making it so the immune system can now begin to produce antibodies to fight off COVID-19 without changing any part of the genetic code. The rest of the contents for this vaccine include acids, salts, sugars, and ethanol. It is worth noting that there are some side effects for the vaccines, including pain at the injection point, body aches, headaches, and/or a fever lasting no longer than two days on average. Beyond this point, it is important to reach out to one’s healthcare provider for information.

FICTION: The COVID-19 vaccine was rushed and is not guaranteed to be safe. The vaccine was made available to the public in too short of a time period.

FACT: The primary reason why the vaccine was approved so quickly is that the effectivity rate is considerably high without any serious side effects. Another reason the pacing was rather fast was due to the fact that, “[w]ithin weeks of the outbreak in Wuhan, Chinese scientists successfully determined the pathogen, deciphered the gene sequence and shared data on the new coronavirus with international colleagues.” It should also be considered that the approach of creating a vaccine using mRNA is faster than the way other vaccines have been made, and the process of using this method that was long since in development was conducted on an overlapped schedule to help get the necessary information more quickly.

Despite concerns with the vaccine that may arise, each vaccine is effective at preventing death and serious side effects. It is encouraged that individuals do research on the vaccines with the help of their healthcare provider.