You have questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines. Here, we've pulled together the latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other reliable sources to directly address common concerns.
1. Myth: Vaccines can cause you to develop COVID-19.
Reality: FALSE. The COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S. cannot and will not give you COVID-19. They do not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The protein that helps your immune system recognize and fight the virus does not cause infection of any sort.
2. Myth: To accelerate the development of the vaccines, safety protocols were ignored.
Reality: FALSE. Despite the speed with which the vaccines were developed, no shortcuts were taken in judging their safety or effectiveness. The vaccine developers didn’t skip any steps, rather they conducted some of the steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster. They also had more collaboration, technology and funding that allowed them to work quickly.
The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were created with a method that has been in development for years for cancer research; messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines allow a faster approach than the traditional way vaccines are made.
The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine uses a weakened adenovirus, which has been studied extensively for other vaccines.
3. Myth: It’s not safe to take the COVID vaccines until they are fully approved by the FDA.
Reality: On August 23, 2021, the FDA fully approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID19 vaccine for people ages 16 years and older. It continues to be available to people ages 12 through 15 years through emergency use authorization.
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are still available through emergency use authorization. The delay on full approval is because scientists are waiting to see how long the vaccines stay effective. It doesn’t mean they’re less safe; all safety protocols and steps were followed in the vaccine development.
4. Myth: Vaccine side effects are common and severe.
Reality: There are short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve without complication or injury. This includes irritation at the injection site, and some people also developed headache, chills, fatigue or muscle pain lasting for a day or two. These are signs that the vaccine is working to stimulate your immune system. If symptoms persist beyond two days, you should call your doctor.
Severe side effects, such as severe allergic reactions, or anaphylaxis, have been extremely rare.
5. Myth: More people will die as a result of a negative side effect to the COVID-19 vaccine than would actually die from the virus.
Reality: Reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. More than 351-million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through August 9, 2021. During this time, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received 6,631 reports of death (0.0019%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. The FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem.
In Kentucky, more than 7,400 people have died and more than 505,000 have gotten sick. That’s a mortality rate of 0.015 percent, about 8X higher than the deaths reported to VAERS.
While some people that receive the vaccine may develop symptoms as their immune system responds, remember that this is common when receiving any vaccine and not considered serious or life-threatening.
6. Myth: The vaccines alter your DNA.
Reality: This rumor has its origins in the fact that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines both rely on a germ-fighting strategy that utilizes mRNA, which stands for “messenger-RNA”. Messenger-RNA is simply a set of instructions for building a protein, which becomes the source of the body’s immune response. Messenger-RNA interacts with cells but is incapable of entering them. This makes it impossible for it to alter a cell’s DNA, which is only found inside the cell. Human cells break down and get rid of the mRNA soon after they have finished using the instructions.
7. Myth: The vaccines cause miscarriage.
Reality: The CDC released new data in August 2021 showing there is no increased risk of miscarriage among nearly 2,500 pregnant women who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Previous data found no safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated late in pregnancy or for their babies.
However, pregnant mothers are at increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications should they contract the coronavirus.
8. Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine can cause infertility.
Reality: The COVID-19 vaccine will not affect fertility. The COVID-19 vaccine encourages the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the coronavirus’s surface. This “teaches” the body’s immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it.
This myth began as a rumor, based on the supposed inclusion of a spike protein called syncytin-1 in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Regardless of whether syncytin-1 affects human fertility, it is not present in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
9. Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine was developed to control the general population either through microchip tracking or "nano-transducers" in our brains.
Reality: There is no vaccine microchip, and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database.
This myth started after comments made by Bill Gates from The Gates Foundation about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner and is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
The fact is your cell phone and debit or credit cards allow companies to track your movements and habits; the vaccines cannot do this.
10. Myth: If I’ve already had COVID-19, I don’t need a vaccine.
Reality: Yes, your body developed natural antibodies in response to you having the coronavirus, but we don’t know how long they’ll remain effective. The CDC released a study in August 2021 of Kentuckians that showed people who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 in 2020, and who remained unvaccinated in May – June 2021, were 2.34 times more likely to be reinfected compared to those who had gotten fully vaccinated after having the virus.
11. Myth: Once you’ve been vaccinated, there is no reason to wear a mask or socially distance in public.
Reality: The COVID-19 vaccines protect you from getting seriously ill, but you can still become infected or transmit the virus to others. That includes children who are not yet eligible to get vaccinated. Wear your mask, wash your hands, and maintain physical distance until more people are vaccinated.
12. Myth: The government is forcing everybody to get the vaccine.
Reality: There is no federal or state directive that makes vaccination mandatory. The reason for being vaccinated is to protect yourself and anyone else you contact against a potentially dangerous disease.
13. Myth: COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.
Reality: None of the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, nor the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal cells. Source.
14. Myth: Kids don’t get seriously sick from COVID-19. It is not worse than the flu.
Reality: Kids can get and transmit COVID-19, including severe cases. While children do not die from the virus at the same rate as adults, they can still die from COVID-19. In fact, children die from this virus at rates similar to other diseases for which children are vaccinated or kept out of school.
15. Myth: Masks don’t work.
Reality: Studies have shown that universal masking has been an incredibly effective tool for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in schools. Universal masking can allow schools to largely operate normally, and distancing can be reduced in the classroom or on the bus when everyone is masked. Further, if children are exposed to COVID-19 in a fully masked environment, they do not need to quarantine (and can continue in-person schooling.)
16. Myth: Getting the vaccine means I won’t get the coronavirus.
Reality: You could still get infected with the coronavirus even after you’ve received the vaccine, but you’re less likely to develop severe symptoms, be hospitalized or die.
It's important to recognize that getting the vaccine is not just about survival from COVID-19. It's about preventing spread of the virus to others and preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects. While no vaccine is 100% effective, they are far better than not getting a vaccine. The benefits certainly outweigh the risks in healthy people.
17. Myth: I’m young and healthy, I don’t need to get vaccinated.
Reality: While young and healthy people are less likely to develop severe symptoms or die from COVID-19, they can end up in the ICU or with long-hauler symptoms for months after the virus has cleared their symptoms. And, even if they remain asymptomatic, they can unknowingly spread the disease to those who are unvaccinated and vulnerable, such as children and those with compromised immune systems.