COVID-19 Vaccination Myths Versus Facts
Deciphering myth from fact can be tricky when it comes to the information available about the COVID-19 vaccine.
But one truth cannot be denied.
“COVID-19 cannot be overcome without this vaccine,” said David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality. “We need to build confidence and advance the truth – the facts and the hard data – about what we truly know.”
Anyone age 5 or older is eligible to get vaccinated. “COVID vaccines are doing what they’re supposed to do – and that’s reducing hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19. No vaccine can offer absolute protection. But the fact remains that the most effective thing people can do to prevent the spread of COVID is to get vaccinated,” Basel said.
Vaccines are safe and effective. “Millions of people have safely received the vaccines. With over half of the U.S. population vaccinated plus millions across the world, COVID vaccines are among the most tested vaccines ever,” Basel said. “Adverse reactions are extremely rare.”
Basel provides clarity on some common myths and questions about the vaccine, its safety and side effects.
Does the COVID Vaccine Affect Fertility?
A myth that Basel saw online involved claims that the vaccine includes a protein strand related to the placenta, and that women getting vaccinated can face infertility or miscarriage.
“It looks like a really good site, with quotes from Pfizer employees and everything,” he said. “But it’s bogus. The facts are off-base and the claims are not based in any studies or findings. These sorts of things can trick us because of the way they look.”
There has been no link found between the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility issues. COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 12 years of age and older, including people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners.
In a recent study, researchers compared pregnancy success rates among three groups of women. Women with:
- Antibodies from having been vaccinated against COVID-19
- Antibodies from having a recent COVID infection
- No antibodies from recent infection or vaccination
The study found no differences in pregnancy success rates among the three groups.
For males, currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems.
A recent small study of 45 healthy men who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) looked at sperm characteristics, like quantity and movement, before and after vaccination. Researchers found no significant changes in these sperm characteristics after vaccination.
Refer to good sources – like the CDC or Avera.org/covid-vaccine to get answers. It includes information on where you can find a vaccination location near you.
“Or talk to your provider – we are always happy to give patients good, grounded information,” said Basel.
I’m Younger, Healthy and I Don’t Need a Shot
The kernel of truth in the fact that younger, lower-risk individuals may face less-extreme versions of COVID-19 hides the myth in this case.
“We need everyone – in health care, not in health care, young, old or in between to do their part,” Basel said.
While younger people may have milder cases, that’s not guaranteed. Basel said they can pass it onto people more at-risk, such as the elderly. He added that the only way through to an end of this pandemic is through vaccination.
“We won’t get to the 70-80% rate we need if everyone doesn’t chip in and help.”
If I Can Still Get COVID After Getting Vaccinated, Why Bother?
The long-standing myth a vaccine can cause a person to “get” the virus is just that: not true.
“It’s impossible to get COVID-19 from the vaccines,” Basel said. “Your immune system will react, and that shows the vaccine is working, with the soreness at injection site, some fatigue and aches. That reaction is normal – but it doesn’t mean you ‘have’ the virus.”
While the process to create the vaccine was historically fast, it was also safe.
What About Serious Allergic Reactions?
Perspective is important in public health. The tens of thousands of people in clinical studies who received the vaccine with only mild side effects – and who now are protected – cannot be set side-by-side with infrequent accounts of some sort of reaction.
“We want to avoid any allergic reactions, but in those few cases, we can usually help and treat that response,” said Basel. “Compare that to the millions of doses and the hundreds of thousands of people that potentially can be saved, and you’ll see why one-off stories are less important overall.”
Won’t Herd Immunity Come – Vaccine or Not?
Even with known viruses such as the seasonal flu, the concept of herd immunity requires years to have effect and reduce the health impacts of the illness.
Waiting for heard immunity would also lead to many more deaths and cost a tremendous about of money in terms of care, treatment and recovery.
“The vaccine is a safe, effective method for us to make progress in public health,” Basel said. “We encourage everyone 5 and older to get it.”
Learn how to take the next steps if you're ready to get your shot.