The whole world has been battling Covid for the past one year. Our country, once again, is seeing the rise in Covid cases which is worse than the previous one with reports of the mutated virus being transmitted around. But the major difference is that now we have some vaccines available in the market. At present, the government is battling two new problems, first being the shortage of vaccines in some districts (primarily heavily populated urban areas) and secondly, vaccination hesitancy amongst people. This reluctance amongst the public against vaccination is being fueled by some myths. Here we’ll try to address some of those myths in an attempt to motivate people to get vaccinated.
Myth: Covid vaccine is not safe because it was developed quickly with inappropriate testing
Reality: The companies have not bypassed any national or international safety protocols. Instead, they have invested a large number of resources to develop these vaccines quickly given the worldwide impact of the pandemic. All the vaccines in the market have followed safety protocols of development and testing and then only they have received the regulator’s nod. Also, the information from the MERS virus outbreak which is from the same family as Covid helped researchers move at a quick pace.
Myth: Covid vaccine will make me infertile
Reality: These were false claims being spread on social media. Union Health Minister, Dr. Harshavardhan has refuted these claims and assured the public that Covishield and Covaxin won’t result in any kind of infertility. The U.K.’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives issued a statement about Covid vaccinations, fertility and pregnancy. In it, Dr. Edward Morris, president at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We want to reassure women that there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Claims of any effect of Covid-19 vaccination on fertility are speculative and not supported by any data.”
Myth: I don’t need the vaccine if I already have recovered from Covid in the past
Reality: Although a covid history may result in antibodies being formed in the patient as per studies these antibodies have a short life. There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. This is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long, but more studies are needed to better understand this. Therefore, for better immunity, it is recommended to get yourself vaccinated.
Myth: Vaccination may result in severe side effects or even death
Reality: There is no such evidence to prove this statement. Although the patient might develop short-term mild to moderate vaccine reactions, they get resolved without complications. Reactions like fever, fatigue, headache, and sore muscles are signs of the immune system mounting a response to the vaccine to build immunity against COVID-19. If symptoms persist beyond two days, you should call your doctor.
Myth: I don’t need to wear a mask if I get vaccinated
Reality: Although the vaccine would prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown whether you can carry and transmit the virus or not. If you and the people around you are fully vaccinated, studies suggest that you can go maskless. However, given that not all people have been vaccinated yet, there is still a high COVID contraction risk. Also, none of the vaccines provides 100% protection from the virus therefore, one must indulge in wearing their masks and taking all the precautionary measures.
Myth: Vaccine can weaken the immune system and infect you with the virus
Reality: Since the COVID-19 vaccine does not contain the SARS-Co-2 virus, it is impossible for it to give you COVID-19. Many people have reported side effects from the vaccine-like fever, chills, muscle aches, and headache. Although these are several of the symptoms that occur with a COVID-19 infection, they are actually a sign that your body’s immune system is at work and building a defense against the virus.
Myth: Covid vaccine will alter my DNA
Reality: Most COVID-19 vaccines to reach the market are messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. According to the CDC (Centre for disease control), mRNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. Injecting mRNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells.
Myth: The vaccine is unsafe for pregnant women
Reality: Although the CDC says there is limited data about the safety of vaccines w.r.t pregnant women but animal studies suggest that pregnant women can take the vaccine under special care. As of February 16, there have been no safety problems reported in a registry of more than 30,000 pregnant women who have been vaccinated in the USA.
Myth: I cannot take the vaccine as I have comorbidities such as diabetes, heart disease etc.
Reality: A comorbid person should get vaccinated as soon as possible because covid complications are more common in people with such comorbidities. Although it is recommended to consult the doctor before getting vaccinated.
Myth: The virus has mutated and the vaccine won’t work
Reality: It’s true that new strains of the coronavirus have emerged and are spreading quickly around the world. The new strains appear to be transmitted more easily than current strains, increasing the likelihood that even more people will fall ill. Viruses mutate all the time, though. This is not new, nor is it rare. The current vaccines may be less effective for certain strains of the virus, such as the strains from South Africa and Brazil. The degree to which the vaccines are less effective is not yet fully known. However, data suggests they all still offer some protection.
Myth: The vaccine may cause long term negative effects
Reality: The initial vaccine products are degraded very quickly by our own cells — within a few days to a week. In general, vaccines rarely create any long-term problems. But delayed effects of vaccination have occurred — for example, with the oral polio vaccine and the yellow fever vaccine. That being said, these delayed reactions have all occurred within six to eight weeks of receiving a booster dose, and the reactions mimic natural infection. Phase 3 trials for the COVID vaccine evaluated participants for the full eight weeks post-booster. No delayed events were noted. In contrast, the risk for long term and chronic, debilitating disease is significant with natural COVID-19.