Dispelling Common COVID-19 Vaccine Myths

Rollouts of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approved COVID-19 vaccines have begun. Although they are being administered in pharmacies and medical centers, general questions and concerns have come up from patients. While some questions have been valid, false truths and myths have circulated as well. 

At Carolina Pharmacy, our goal is to keep patients informed. Here, we will review the authorized vaccines and will discuss some of the most common myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccines

The FDA has provided emergency use authorizations for three vaccines. Each vaccine has a different composition but is effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Pfizer-BioNTech

Although it was initially approved for adults only, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is now approved for use in patients ages 12 and older. This is a 2-dose mRNA vaccine. The second dose is administered 3 weeks after the first.

mRNA COVID vaccines do not use a live virus. Instead, they teach the cells to create a protein that triggers an immune response to COVID-19.

Moderna

The Moderna vaccine is currently approved for adults ages 18 and over. It is also a 2-dose mRNA vaccine. Doses are scheduled approximately 4 weeks apart.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen

As the only 1-dose injection, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. It is approved for patients 18 and older. 

Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different virus to deliver information to our cells. This teaches the cells to identify the spike protein and to create an immune response to it without actually getting sick with COVID-19.

Common COVID Vaccine Myths

Understandably, the last year has been very different. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a lot of changes, fears, and concerns. Although getting patients vaccinated will help stop the spread of the virus, providing education and dispelling myths about the vaccines is the first step.

Myth #1: The vaccines were developed too quickly to be safe or effective.

Fact: All of the vaccines were thoroughly tested and were approved for emergency use by the FDA. They continue to be monitored for safety and effectiveness. Throughout their clinical trials, the vaccines were highly effective at preventing serious complications, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. 

Although it has taken longer in the past to develop vaccines, that does not mean steps were missed throughout the development of the COVID vaccines. These were developed quickly for several reasons including:

  • The technologies used have been in the works for years to prepare for outbreaks of infectious diseases.
  • Countries shared the genetic makeup of SARS-CoV-2 which gave developers a headstart on vaccine preparations.
  • Governments helped to fund the process so vaccine companies had access to the necessary resources.
  • The mRNA technology is a faster approach to making vaccines.
  • Due to the widespread effects of COVID-19, there were plenty of study participants who had already been exposed. Trials could be performed faster and it was easier to monitor the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Myth #2: I’ve already had COVID-19 so I don’t need the vaccine.

Fact: Because reinfection is possible and there are severe health effects associated with COVID-19, even those who have had the virus can benefit from the vaccine. The vaccine helps to boost your immune system so it is prepared to fight off the infection if you have to face it again.

At this time, it is unknown how long immunity may last following a COVID infection. Getting vaccinated is the only sure way to know that your body is protected. Most patients may receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are out of quarantine. However, those who received monoclonal antibodies as part of their treatment must wait 90 days before getting a vaccine.

Myth #3: The vaccine will alter my DNA.

Fact: mRNA, or messenger RNA, vaccines are a new type of technology to protect against infectious diseases. While new, the technology is not unknown. In fact, mRNA vaccines have been studied for use with the flu, rabies, Zika virus, and cytomegalovirus (CMV)

With many typical vaccines, a weakened version of the virus is used to trigger that immune response. That is not the case with mRNA vaccines. Instead, these vaccines teach our cells how to create a protein that triggers an immune response. The response is to produce antibodies that protect against the real virus.

mRNA vaccines cannot give you COVID-19. They do not alter or affect the body’s DNA in any way because the mRNA material never enters the nucleus of the cell.

Myth #4: I only need one dose of the vaccine to be protected against COVID-19.

Fact: The Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require 2 doses; Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine is a single dose. The vaccines are not interchangeable

Full vaccination occurs 2 weeks after the second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 2 weeks after the one-dose J&J vaccine.

Myth #5: The vaccines have severe side effects.

Fact: In April, the CDC temporarily halted administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine amid reports of blood clots in a small number of women, mostly under the age of 50. Experts reviewed the data and confirmed the risk of this event is rare (7 in 1 million). The CDC resumed the use of the vaccine because the benefits outweigh the risks.

Generally speaking, side effects from vaccines are possible, but they are generally mild. Side effects are a sign that your body is building protection against COVID-19. The most common side effects include:

  • Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain

To reduce the effects, drink plenty of water, wear light clothing, and exercise or use the arm that received the injection. If necessary, you may also take over-the-counter medication for any pain or discomfort. If your side effects get worse or do not seem to go away after a couple of days, contact your healthcare provider.

Myth #6: I don’t need to wear a mask or practice social distancing after being vaccinated.

Fact: In May, the CDC released new regulations stating that fully vaccinated people can resume normal activities without wearing masks or social distancing. 

However, they must still abide by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws and by business or workplace rulings. Therefore, regardless of vaccination status, if a state or business mandates wearing masks, you must continue to do so.

Get Your COVID-19 Vaccine at Carolina Pharmacy

Carolina Pharmacy offers COVID-19 vaccines in Charlotte, Lancaster, and Rock Hill. You may also schedule a COVID-19 test in Charlotte, Greenville, Rock Hill, and Lancaster

Your health and wellness are our priorities. Contact Carolina Pharmacy today with any questions or concerns that you have about the COVID vaccines. We are happy to help!