To date, there have been over 550,000 deaths attributed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the United States alone. Thankfully, all adults are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Pennsylvania, including Greater Coatesville. However, as vaccination efforts ramp up at home and throughout the world, many citizens are still reluctant to “take their shot.” Vaccine hesitancy can have serious repercussions as we strive for herd immunity and an end to the pandemic, so today, we will sort out fact from fiction (and fake news) when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Myth 1: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed too quickly to be safe.
Fact: While trials are still ongoing, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows for emergency use authorization of vaccines during public health emergencies. With that said, new and existing COVID-19 vaccines have to meet rigorous safety and effectiveness standards before being distributed to the public, just like all vaccines in the United States. As for speed, public interest has allowed COVID-19 vaccine trials to fill much quicker. The development of COVID-19 vaccines has also been backed by unprecedented funding and resources due to the urgency of a deadly pandemic, and they have built upon existing research, including the new mRNA vaccines. On April 13, 2021, CDC and FDA recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine due to reports of a small number of rare blood clots after vaccination. While studies show COVID-19 infection has a far higher risk of blood clots by comparison, this pause to review data shows safety is a priority. Click here for a Joint CDC and FDA Statement on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine and for further updates.
Myth 2: The COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility and can alter our DNA.
Fact: According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC), the COVID-19 vaccines currently available to the public cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. For example, The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines work by teaching cells how to recognize the spike protein on the surface of COVID-19, triggering a strong immune response. They do this without entering the nucleus of cells where DNA is kept, as noted by the CDC. The single dose Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine uses a modified adenovirus (like the common cold) as a viral vector. This starts the production of antibodies that can help protect us from serious illness or death from COVID-19 infection. In addition, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes fertility problems or issues during pregnancy. For information on the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy from John Hopkins Medicine, click here.
Myth 3: The COVID-19 vaccines were not tested for safety and efficacy in high-risk or minority populations.
Fact: The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly hard on diverse communities, disproportionately affecting people of color and those more vulnerable to the risk factors for severe COVID-19 outcomes. Historically, minority groups have been underrepresented in clinical trials. However, the COVID-19 vaccine trials actively recruited diverse participants to make sure the shots would be safe and effective in high-risk populations.
Myth 4: The COVID-19 vaccines will make me sick.
Fact: While some people experience side effects from vaccination, these are typically short-lived, and rest assured, you absolutely cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. While rare breakthrough cases are being reported in fully vaccinated individuals, this can happen with any vaccine, and symptoms are typically mild or non-existent. More importantly, the current COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective and have proven to be nearly 100 percent successful at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19, which is really the goal.
Myth 5: If I already had COVID-19, I don’t need the shot.
Fact: The CDC is recommending that people who have recovered from COVID-19 should still get vaccinated. Even with some degree of natural immunity, evidence suggests that protection can wane, and boosting your immune system with the vaccine helps to provide longer lasting protection. Getting vaccinated is considered a safer way to build immunity vs. the risks of infection.
As of April 5, 2021, Chester County had fully vaccinated 18 percent of its entire population, which is below state and national averages. To see how we compare with nearby counties, click here. Now that our Health Department has opened up appointments for everyone age 16 and older to receive a free vaccine, things are looking up. As more infectious variants spread, vaccination is more important than ever. It is also necessary for ending the pandemic, as well as protecting ourselves, the community at large, and the people we love. So please, don’t throw away your shot.
To register and schedule an appointment with the Chester County Health Department, visit chesco.org/covidvaccine or call 610-344-6225.
Brandywine Health Foundation is a philanthropic organization striving to advance a more equitable, resilient and healthy community for all residents of the Greater Coatesville area. We pursue our mission through funding and running programs and services to improve the health and development of children, teens, and families in the Coatesville Area School District. We also provide funding to non-profit organizations and scholarships to students who need our help most. 100% of contributions go directly to those in need.