The world has been longing for a COVID-19 vaccine since the start of the pandemic, so it was welcome news when Health Canada had approved the first COVID-19 vaccine. Although they are available now, you might be skeptical of getting one with the number of rumours going around. Not sure you know the truth about the COVID-19 vaccines? Let’s take a look at some common myths about the COVID-19 vaccines and separate fact from fiction.
Rumour #1: The vaccines will make you sick with COVID-19.
The COVID-19 vaccines will not make you sick with COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty® and Moderna Spikevax® vaccines are not made of the live virus that causes COVID-19, instead it is made up of messenger RNA (mRNA). The goal of this vaccine is to teach your body to recognize and fight the virus by giving the instructions (mRNA) to make a harmless protein of the virus. After the protein is made, the cell breaks down the instructions (mRNA) and gets rid of them. Your immune system then recognizes the protein since it doesn’t typically belong there. This triggers your body to make antibodies, which will protect you from being infected with the real COVID-19 virus if it were to enter your body in the future.
The AstraZeneca Vaxzevria® and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines use a harmless, modified virus (vector) that normally causes the common cold. This vector will deliver genetic instructions to the cells in your body to make the spike protein of COVID-19. Once these cells present the spike protein on their surface, the immune system can recognize them and start making antibodies.
Other approved COVID-19 vaccines use similar methods to help your body build immunity without causing infection. Protein subunit vaccines, such as the Novavax Nuvaxovid COVID-19 vaccine, use harmless pieces (proteins) of the virus to help us develop antibodies that can fight off the virus in the future if it shows up in the body. Plant-based vaccines, including the Medicago Covifenz® COVID-19 vaccine, use a non-infectious particle that looks the same as the virus for our immune system to recognize.
Rumour #2: The vaccines were rushed and there hasn’t been enough testing.
Vaccine development is usually a long process and can take several years. However, the first 2 COVID-19 vaccines were developed and approved for use in a matter of 8 months. This rapid timeline may sound alarming, but it was possible due to the large amount of funding, time and effort spent on research. Scientists had also already been studying other coronaviruses for many years which sped up the process.
New vaccines go through different stages before being approved: preclinical trials and clinical trials (phases I, II and III). Preclinical trials involve testing the vaccine in cells and in animals. During phase I of clinical trials, the vaccine is given to a small number of healthy people. In phase II, the vaccine is given to more people who fit the characteristics of the intended target population. In phase III, the vaccine is given to thousands of people (usually 1,000 to 3,000) to test for effectiveness and safety.
The COVID-19 vaccines underwent the same rigorous testing as any other vaccine, but were fast-tracked by completing many stages at the same time. This means that all the usual safety checks were performed and completed simultaneously, rather than separately, saving a lot of time. Furthermore, widespread efforts from governments and other groups contributed significantly to their development.
Rumour #3: We don’t need multiple vaccines from different companies.
Vaccines are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Currently, the available COVID-19 vaccines cannot be given to everyone. The Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty® COVID-19 vaccine is approved for individuals 5 years of age and older. The Moderna Spikevax® COVID-19 vaccine vaccines is approved for use in those who are 6 years of age and over. The AstraZeneca Vaxzevria®, Janssen (Johnson and Johnson), Medicago Covifenz® and Novavax Nuvaxovid® COVID-19 vaccines are approved for people 18 years of age and older.
It’s important to have multiple vaccines available so that everyone can be safely vaccinated and protected against COVID-19. Each vaccine may have different requirements, and if you can’t receive one vaccine for any reason, there’s a good chance that you can get another one. As of now, there are many vaccines in development around the world, a number of which are in phase III clinical trials.
Rumour #4: The COVID-19 vaccines don’t work.
COVID-19 vaccines authorized in Canada have been shown to be safe and effective against COVID-19. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to provide protection from developing COVID-19 symptoms and outcomes from severe illness, such as hospitalization. This also means that you’re less likely to have COVID-19, reduce the spread of the virus to others and lower your risk from developing long term symptoms of COVID-19 (also known as post COVID-19 condition).
Over time, protection from the COVID-19 vaccines can decrease even after you’ve received your primary series. A primary series refers to 2 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty®, Moderna Spikevax®, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria® or Novavax Nuvaxovid® vaccines in any combination or one dose of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine.
Individuals who have a weakened immune system are recommended to have an additional mRNA COVID-19 dose as part of their primary series, not including any booster doses. Booster doses beyond the primary series are recommended for certain age groups and populations to provide enhanced protection from COVID-19 variants, such as Omicron (B.1.1.529). You can contact your local public health authority to see if you’re eligible for a booster dose.
Rumour #5: The vaccines are not safe for people with allergies.
While it is possible to have an allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, the chances of that happening are very slim. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include hives (itchy bumps on the skin); swelling of the face, tongue or throat; and difficulty breathing. These symptoms usually begin immediately or within 30 minutes of getting the vaccine. People with common allergies (e.g., foods, insects, pollen, medications) are no more likely than the general public to have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine.
If you have a history of allergic reactions to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine that you may be getting, you consult with your allergist to see if additional doses of that vaccine are safe for you or whether you should receive a different COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your health care professional if you think you may be allergic to one or more of the vaccine ingredients.
Rumour #6: I’ve already had COVID-19 so I don’t need to get the vaccine.
After someone is infected with COVID-19 and has recovered, they may have some protection from getting COVID-19 again. However, at this time, scientists do not know how long this natural immunity lasts. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may last a few months, but more research is needed to better understand this. Furthermore, natural immunity may not provide sufficient protection against new variants.
Because the health risks associated with COVID-19 infection can be severe, and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, you are advised to get the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19 before, as well as any booster doses that you’re eligible for. It is recommended to wait for a certain period of time after you had COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive if you had no symptoms. This period can vary depending on whether you are waiting for COVID-19 vaccine doses as part of your main, primary series or whether you are waiting for booster doses. Speak with a health care professional if you’re interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine and had recent symptoms or tested positive for the virus.
Rumour #7: Wearing a mask is not necessary after getting vaccinated.
Even after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, experts recommend that you continue to wear a mask and practice recommended public health measures.
It typically takes a few weeks for your body to build immunity after vaccination. This means that it is possible to be infected with COVID-19 just after vaccination and get sick. Furthermore, although the vaccines reduce your risk of infection, it is still possible for fully vaccinated individuals and those who have received booster doses to become infected and transmit the virus to others.
Masking can help protect you from infection, particularly in shared spaces and crowded settings. In general, medical masks and respirators provide better protection than non-medical masks, although all three types can be used in the community. It is important to keep up to date with your local public health unit’s recommendations to lower the risk of viral transmission in your community.
Rumour #8: The vaccine may cause infertility.
There is no evidence that the new COVID-19 vaccines can affect a woman’s fertility in any way. While pregnant and breast-feeding women were excluded from the initial phase III trials, some participants became pregnant after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and have not reported any significant side effects to date.
Currently, mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for those who are pregnant or breast-feeding, provided that they do not have any severe allergies to the vaccine ingredients. Viral vector, protein subunit or plant-based COVID-19 vaccines can be given instead if an mRNA vaccine cannot be used for medical reasons or if an mRNA vaccine is not available. You can speak to your prenatal care provider if you have any questions about the vaccines. They can help you make an informed decision by taking into account your risk of COVID-19 infection and the current safety and efficacy data of the available COVID-19 vaccines.
Rumour #9: COVID-19 vaccines aren’t safe.
Vaccines are only authorized in Canada after they are proven to be safe and effective. Side effects after vaccination are usually part of your body’s response to build protection against a disease. Common side effects of COVID-19 vaccination include injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. These side effects are usually mild and go away within a few days, similar to what you might experience with other vaccines.
There have been other very rare side effects reported that may be associated with certain COVID-19 vaccines, such as heart muscle or tissue inflammation and blood clots associated with low platelet counts. If you are worried about any side effects following a COVID-19 vaccine, check with your health care provider first to see if there’s a type of COVID-19 vaccine that you can receive safely. Health Canada and other provincial health authorities are continuing to monitor all associated side effect reports closely.
Rumour #10: The mRNA vaccine will alter my DNA.
The Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty® and Moderna Spikevax® COVID-19 vaccines contain mRNA, which are genetic instructions on how to make proteins. After getting the vaccine, your cells use the mRNA to make the coronavirus spike protein, then break down and destroy the mRNA after it’s been used. The mRNA from the COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is stored. This means that the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA at all.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2022. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/10-Common-COVID-19-Vaccine-Rumours