Guyana, like the rest of the world, has begun to vaccinate its population against COVID-19. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rumors spread, especially on social media, about the COVID-19 vaccines. This creates too many vaccine skeptics, and puts us all at risk of being stuck in the pandemic for longer than we should have. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 2010 and 2015, vaccines prevented an estimated 10 million deaths. Scientists have worked tirelessly to create safe and effective vaccines to protect us from COVID-19. Some people, called “anti-vaxxers”, dedicate their entire lives to rails against vaccines, and are largely behind the many myths circulating about COVID-19 vaccines. Today, I’ll share some common myths that are circulating about COVID-19 vaccines, so you can be properly informed and help dispel these myths.
Myth: Side effects of the COVID-19
vaccine is dangerous.
Although the COVID-19 vaccine can have side effects, the vast majority are very short-term and are not serious or dangerous. Some people experience pain where they have been injected; body aches; a headache or fever that lasts for a day or two. These are signs that the vaccine is working to stimulate your immune system. If you have allergies, especially serious ones that require hospitalization, discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with your doctor, who can assess your risk and provide more information about whether you can be vaccinated at safe and how.
There has been recent evidence of rare blood clots in a small number of patients receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. Since then, experts have advised that these are rare occurrences, and the benefits far outweigh the risks, and advocate its continued use. Thousands of Guyanese have already received this vaccine, and there have been no reported cases of blood clots associated with it.
Myth: The vaccine will change my DNA.
These vaccines were designed using the virus RNA and DNA to create similar structures in the vaccines. These structures cannot alter our DNA in any shape or form. When our body detects them after vaccination, it produces antibodies that can be stored and used to effectively fight the SarsCov2 virus if we come into contact with it. It does not interact directly with our DNA in any way.
Myth: You can get COVID-19 from the vaccines
The COVID-19 vaccines cannot give COVID-19 to an individual. Regardless of the type of vaccine, none contain the live SarsCov2 virus. Any side effect, such as a headache or a cold, is due to the immune response, not infection.
Myth: The vaccine
According to some, the vaccines were designed with a microchip inside, and will allow shady elites to track our every move. In fact, our mobile phones already complete that task effortlessly. There is no evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines contain a microchip, especially as all vaccines have undergone rigorous testing and analysis by many different international regulatory bodies.
Myth: COVID-19 vaccines can make you infertile
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility. Similarly, there is no evidence that they will endanger pregnancy in the future. This rumor began because of a link between the spike protein coded by the mRNA-based vaccines and a protein called syncytin-1. Syncytin-1 is essential for the placenta to remain attached to the womb during pregnancy. However, although the spike protein shares a few amino acids in common with syncytin-1, they are not even nearly similar enough to confuse the immune system and cause abortions.
Myth: You should not take the vaccine if you are breastfeeding
You and your breastfeeding baby need protection against COVID-19, just like everyone else. You cannot get COVID-19, or give your baby COVID-19, by being vaccinated. The components of the vaccine are not known to harm breastfeeding babies. When you receive the vaccine, the small vaccine particles are used by your muscle cells at the injection site, and are therefore unlikely to enter breast milk. When a person is vaccinated during breastfeeding, their immune system develops antibodies that protect against COVID-19. These antibodies can be transmitted through breast milk to the baby. Newborns of vaccinated breastfeeding mothers can benefit from these antibodies in the fight against COVID-19.
Myth: the COVID-19
the vaccine was developed rapidly, so it is unsafe
Millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given, and so far, it has been proven to be safe and effective. Although these vaccines were developed at record time, they would have gone through the same rigorous trial and authorization process as all other vaccines, and would have met all safety standards. No action was omitted. In fact, the clinical trials and safety reviews took about the same amount of time as other vaccines. Scientists used existing technologies that saved most of the time needed to develop a vaccine from scratch. Also, this is the first time such a worldwide focus and investment has created vaccine creation. Adequate funding and co-operation meant that the process was also much more efficient.
Myth: You don’t need a
vaccine, because the survival rate of COVID-19 is high.
Although the COVID-19 survival rate is high, the death rate is higher in the older population and those with other chronic illnesses. These people rely on others who are less at risk of getting vaccinated, so that the illness cannot spread to them.
We all have loved ones who are in the high risk group, and we need to look for them, and be vaccinated. Also, while the death rate is not high, the long-term effects of COVID-19 are devastating for many who are infected. It ranges from damage to the lungs, kidneys and liver, to a number of issues related to damage to the nervous system. Those with damage to the nervous system tend to be scared, depressed, experience irritable pains, and have nightmares for no apparent reason.
Myth: Only the high risk should be vaccinated
No matter what your risk, you can still catch the infection and spread it to others; therefore, it is important that you are vaccinated. Once the vaccine is widely available, it is recommended that as many eligible adults as possible receive the vaccine. In addition, physicians are finding long-term complications in those who are not high-risk and who received COVID-19.