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The truth about vaccines and their myths

Medical experts agree that the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved with Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA are the best way to reduce the spread of the virus, achieve herd immunity and end the pandemic.

Misconceptions, misunderstandings and myths may lead a few to delay getting vaccinated. Karen Brown, MD, medical director of primary care for Northeast Medical Group (NEMG), examines some of the most common reasons for vaccine hesitancy and clears up confusion through scientific facts.

Myth: The vaccines can’t be safe because they were created so fast.

Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines are new, but the technology used to make them is not. Scientists and researchers developed the technology used to create the vaccines years before the pandemic broke out. That research gave today’s scientists a big head start. The vaccines were also thoroughly studied and reviewed before the FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization. “I’ve heard a lot of talk about how fast these vaccines were developed, but there were no shortcuts taken,” Dr. Brown said. “They went through the same phases of the clinical trials that every other approved vaccine goes through.”

Myth: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine gives you COVID-19.

Fact: The vaccines for COVID-19 do not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus which makes it impossible to infect you with COVID-19. Instead, the vaccines teach your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Myth: The vaccines cause serious side effects.

Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines can cause side effects, but most are not serious or dangerous. Side effects can include pain at the injection site, body aches, headaches, chills or fever that last for a day or two. These are signs that the vaccine is working to stimulate your immune system. 

“At this point the vaccines have been given to millions of people around the world,” Dr. Brown said. “This shows just how safe they are. The vast majority of people have no side effects, or side effects that resolve completely in one to two days.” 

Myth: The vaccine makes you infertile.

Fact: Dr. Brown is clear when she says there is zero evidence that the vaccines impact fertility. “It is just not something that is backed up by the data,” she added. “The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine and the American College of Pediatrics have all advised offering the vaccines to women who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant.”  

Myth: If you’ve had COVID-19 you don’t need a vaccine.

Fact: People who have gotten sick with COVID-19 may still benefit from getting vaccinated. Because re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised by their doctor to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with the virus before.

Myth: Once you get the vaccine you can travel again.

Fact: Travel restrictions are still in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Before you travel anywhere, check your state’s website for guidance on current travel restrictions:

“It’s about protecting those who may not have been vaccinated yet,” Dr. Brown said. “Until we reach the point of herd immunity we all need to maintain our precautions and that means wearing masks and social distancing except in very small groups of others who have also been vaccinated.”

Check our COVID-19 Vaccine information page for more information.