With over 2.31 Million deaths worldwide due to COVID-19, everyone has been eagerly awaiting the COVID -19 vaccine ever since the global pandemic was declared in January 2020. Now after about a year, scientists and researchers have developed a vaccine, which has given the global population hope for an end to the pandemic. While the pharmaceutical companies have started providing doses of the vaccine and are producing more in larger numbers, there exists a portion of the population that is reluctant in getting the vaccine. There are a number of people who are influenced by the hoaxes and myths about the vaccine which continue to prevail in our society.
There are a lot of claims on the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine circulating on various social media platforms drawing skepticism towards the vaccine. One of the top myths talks about vaccines not being safe since it was developed rapidly, and there is supposed insufficient testing data to support the vaccine’s safety. While the pharmaceutical companies tried to speed up the process of developing the vaccine by investing in significant resources for this development because the pandemic has affected people worldwide. Companies have confirmed that just because they developed the vaccine quicker, it does not mean that they skipped the safety protocols and adequate testing. These vaccines are safe to take.
Another rumour circulating is that if someone has already recovered from COVID-19 they do not need to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Again, there isn’t enough data to confirm for how long post infection an individual is protected against COVID-19. The existing evidences however suggest that natural immunity might not last very long in case of COVID -19 hence it is better to get the vaccine even if you have recovered from the virus.
People also assume that getting a vaccine means they can remove the mask. Certainly not true as the vaccine might prevent you from getting sick but there is no evidence that it would guarantee if an individual can transmit the disease to others or not. A mask is the easiest way to prevent the virus from spreading, hence it is highly recommended to wear it every time an individual steps into a public place in order to protect themselves and for the safety of others.
A hoax has been created on social media that as a result of negative side effects of the vaccine, more people would end up losing their lives from the vaccine than the virus. However, a 1% mortality rate is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. In addition to that, mortality rate can be highly influenced by sex, age, pre-existing health conditions and varies widely considering multiple health related factors. It is common to develop symptoms when receiving vaccines as a result of immune system response, but this is not life threatening. People must keep in mind that getting the vaccine not only means surviving through COVID-19, but also preventing the spread of the virus to others.
Another myth states that people do not want to get vaccinated since it alters their DNA. The first vaccines to reach the public are the mRNA vaccines which work by instructing the cells on how to make protein that would further trigger the immune response in the body. Injecting mRNA inside the body does not interact or alter the DNA of the cells in fact cells break down and get rid of the mRNA as soon as they have finished using the instructions.
The myth about vaccines causing infertility or miscarriage is also false as there is no link between the vaccine and infertility or miscarriage. These postings are not scientifically plausible as COVID-19 has not been linked to infertility. No other viral infection or the vaccination induced immunity that used a similar mechanism as COVID-19 have caused infertility. While there have not been any formal studies conducted but the best evidence source are the women who got sick during COVID -19 while being pregnant and the data clearly indicates despite pregnant women being at higher risk of hospitalization due to the virus, there still is no evidence of miscarriage rates.
People allergic to egg are expressing that they should not get the vaccine. Since the two vaccine manufacturing pharmaceuticals, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna claim that no egg was used in development or production of the vaccine. Though people who are severely allergic to eggs or other substances such as anaphylaxis are encouraged to stay for about 30 minutes for observation after injecting the vaccine.
Another fabrication of the COVID-19 vaccine deniers on social media is that these vaccines are produced using fetal tissue. There is no fetal tissue used in the production of either of the two vaccines.
While we all understand how hard these times are and it is highly likely that anything we hear about COVID-19 might influence our own beliefs about the virus, it is very important to fact-check the rumours we hear about the vaccine or the virus in order to prevent the spread and eradicate this virus as soon as possible. If everyone does their own bit, it would be easier to get out of this pandemic.