Issues and Challenges

COVID-19 Vaccine: Myths & Reality

Now that Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has authorized COVID-19 vaccines in Pakistan and the third wave is picking up, the dissemination of accurate information regarding the vaccines is equally important. We were a little skeptical about COVID-19 vaccine at first but we overcame this skepticism with research and witnessing first-hand how the vaccine helped our family members. It is time to dispel the myths regarding the vaccine. Following are some of the prevalent myths about the COVID-19 vaccine and the corresponding facts. 

Myth: I was tested positive for COVID-19 ; I do not need to get vaccinated.
Fact: Several documented cases of COVID-19 reinfection are being reported throughout the world suggesting that a re-infection is possible. Studies have shown that COVID-19 antibodies for some people may start to wear in the months following the infection or may be present at low levels in the first place after the recovery. Therefore, it is recommended that you should get vaccinated even if you are among the recovered corona warriors.

Myth: The vaccine was developed quickly and rushed to the market, thus, there weren’t enough clinical trials to declare it safe.
Fact: Even though the worldwide emergency encouraged pharmaceutical companies to develop the vaccine in real time, they have not bypassed any step. They have gone through the same rigorous process as other vaccines, meeting all safety standards. The multiscale clinical trials and safety reviews took approximately the same amount of time as other vaccines. The fast-paced development and delivery were made possible due to increased collaboration, innovative technology and funding. Also, before the COVID-19 pandemic, research had been carried out on vaccines, i.e., for SARS, hence, the quick response is justified. 

Myth: Once I have gotten vaccinated, I need to stop following the COVID-19 SOPs.
Fact: People who are vaccinated should not consider themselves entitled to walk around without following the SOPs. Handwashing, wearing masks and physical distancing is equally important for them as it is for those who have not been vaccinated until a considerable proportion of the population is immune. Researchers are still unclear whether the vaccine keeps the recipient from becoming a potential carrier of the virus. Hence, there is a need to follow the SOPs until herd immunity has been achieved, i.e., at least 75-80% of the population has been vaccinated. 

Myth: I have O blood type, so I will not contract the virus.
Fact: Every person should get vaccinated as people with every blood type including O blood type have contracted the virus. First, even though the risk and severity of COVID-19 symptoms vary from person-to-person, the people at risk are more prone to the effects of the virus, but this in any way does not exclude others from the category of those contracting the virus. Second, a person might be a carrier of the virus that can infect others. So, getting vaccinated is in the best interest of the whole society. Studies show that the evident benefits of the vaccine outweigh the potential harms of becoming infected with COVID-19. 

Myth: I do not need the vaccine because I am young and do not have any risk factors for severe complications from COVID-19 infection.
Fact: While there is no denying the fact that young adults are less likely to develop serious complications from the virus, which becomes a potential cause of death, the disease can still be dangerous for them. Also, such individuals can act as potential carriers of the virus while being asymptomatic themselves. Hence, being healthy and young with a stronger immune system should not deter you from getting vaccinated. 

Myth: Once I have received the COVID-19 vaccine, I am immune for life.
Fact: No evidence supports the fact that the vaccine will give lifetime protection against the virus. We may need to get the vaccine dose regularly, much like a flu shot after every two to three years. “Right now, everyone is hoping that immunity will be pretty long-lasting, maybe several years,” says Christopher Murray, M.D., director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. 

Myth: The vaccine itself can infect me with the virus.
Fact: The vaccine does not contain live virus. However, there are several short-term and temporary side-effects of the vaccine, such as chills, injection-site sore, fever and muscle aches but these should not be mistaken for COVID-19. Also, it is totally fine to suffer from these short-term side effects than catching the virus itself and exposing your loved ones to it. 

Myth: I know people who caught COVID after getting vaccinated; this is proof that the vaccine is ineffective. 
Fact: As a matter of fact, it may take several days to weeks for the vaccine to generate an immune response. Also, there is a probability that the person testing positive for the virus after vaccination had caught it well before getting vaccinated. It is also important to bear in mind the fact that no vaccine has a 100% efficacy but may reduce the likelihood of suffering from some of the serious complications of the virus. Vaccine is effective and the only protection against the virus and its complications.

Myth: The vaccine results in side effects, thus, it is not safe.
Fact: Similar to other vaccines, there are a few side effects for a couple of days. This is an indication that the vaccine is working effectively. After vaccination, almost everyone will have a slightly different reaction varying from severe side effects, like fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain, to somewhat mild side effects, like swelling, headache and fatigue. It does not in any way mean that the vaccine is not working or it is not safe. “That’s a sign your body is building its immune response,” says Dean Blumberg, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccine contains a tracking microchip that can get all our personal information.
Fact: Misinformation about the vaccine containing microchips has been proven wrong. The doubted digital vaccine/immunization records that generated the rumors are only to help physicians and patients track vaccines that have been received. Further, vaccines either contain Messenger RNA (mRNA), a genetic code that stimulates the cells to create similar proteins as contained in the virus or contains the vector virus. These enable the immune system to create antibodies against the virus. Thus, it is not a traceable microchip or electronic component in the vaccine that can track our movements.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccine can affect fertility among women.
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines are falsely being linked to infertility among women. As of now, there is no evidence that the vaccine interrupts the fertility of a female. Fertility problems are neither a result of the COVID-19 vaccine nor a side effect of the vaccine. Contrary to the misinformation that vaccines affect the protein in the placenta (syncytin-1),Email:[email protected] the truth is that the amino acid sequence shared between the spike protein and a placental protein is too short to trigger an immune response and therefore doesn’t affect fertility.

We have attempted to debunk some of the myths that may be acting as a deterrent for you from getting yourself vaccinated. Read it carefully and make an informed decision. Your trust in the vaccine may help save lives. HH

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