A number of myths are circulating about the COVID-19 vaccines. Take this quiz to help learn what's true and what's not.
The FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for the COVID-19 vaccines. This means that they have been shown to be safe and effective in data from large clinical trials. In order to receive an EUA, the vaccine manufacturers must follow at least half the people in the study for at least 2 months after they complete the vaccination series. The vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that group of people.
The known and potential benefits of the vaccines have been found to outweigh the harms of being infected with COVID-19.
Most side effects of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, are mild and temporary. After a vaccine is given and the body is building its defenses, mild side effects are normal and expected. Common side effects and reactions to vaccines include:
The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a place for people who get the vaccine to report unexpected vaccine side effects.
A conspiracy theory has spread that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is part of a plan to put microchips into COVID-19 vaccines to track the population with cell towers using 5G technology. This myth began after Gates made a comment about having digital vaccine records.
This is false. No such technology exists to gather personal information or track people using microchips put into vaccines. The technology Gates commented about is not a microchip and it has not been put into use. It has nothing to do with the development, testing, or distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use a type of mRNA (messenger RNA) technology not used in any existing vaccine. There is no DNA in these vaccines. They cannot affect a person's DNA.
These vaccines contain a small part of the genetic code for a harmless piece of the same spike protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. This gives the body's cells instructions to make viral proteins the immune system can recognize. This mRNA is like an instruction manual for the body on how to fight COVID-19. Once the immune system responds, and the cells are finished using the mRNA instructions, the cells break down and get rid of the mRNA. The mRNA does not enter the nucleus of the cells. This is where genetic material is stored. So the mRNA does not affect a person's DNA.
Another myth spreading online is that COVID-19 vaccines can cause infertility and even miscarriage. This is based on claims that the spike protein made when you get mRNA vaccines blocks a protein needed for a pregnancy to be viable. The protein that is needed for a placenta to stay attached to the uterus is not the same protein as the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The antibodies made by the mRNA vaccines will not block the placental binding protein.
Some pregnant women who were infected with COVID-19 have had fetal loss. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant and lactating women.
Early data suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 infection may not last very long. The CDC states, "Based on what we know from other related human coronaviruses, people appear to become susceptible to reinfection around 90 days after onset of infection."
More studies are needed. But since reinfection with COVID-19 is possible, the CDC says people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been infected before with COVID-19.
You can’t get COVID-19 from COVID-19 vaccines. None of the vaccines for COVID-19 that are in development or use in the U.S. have the live virus that causes COVID-19.
There are several different types of COVID-19 vaccines. Each of these train the body to recognize and fight the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. After you get the vaccine, it can take several weeks for your body to make the immunity needed to fight infection. It’s possible to get infected with COVID-19 just before or just after you get the vaccine. This is because your body has not yet had time to build its defenses. But this infection is not caused by the vaccine.
After a vaccine is given and the body is building its defenses, people may have mild side effects from the vaccine. These can include fever or muscle aches. This is normal and expected. It is a sign that the body's immune system is working.
The vaccines for COVID-19 have so far shown they work to prevent serious illness from the coronavirus that causes it. It is not known if people could be infected and have no symptoms. This means a person could get the vaccine and may still be able to spread the virus to others. Until a majority of the population is has had the vaccine, which will take time, the virus can spread and infect people.
Until there is more data about the role of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, people will need to keep wearing masks.
Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, and vaccines against influenza do not provide protection against COVID-19.
Although these vaccines do not protect against COVID-19, the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) advise vaccination against these other respiratory illnesses to protect your health.