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Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe? Vaccine myths vs facts

Posted by AllWays Health Partners blog team on February 11, 2021

As we move into the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Massachusetts, you and your employees may have questions. While 69% of people say they want to get the vaccine, that still leaves 31% feeling hesitant about the safety and side effects of the vaccine. If you're concerned about vaccine adoption among your workforce, we encourage you to share the facts and resources included in this post to help address their vaccine concerns.

The information shared in this post comes from Mass.gov's Trust the Facts, Get the Vax campaign and the CDC


MYTH: The vaccine was too rushed to be safe.
FACT: The vaccine is safe even though it happened quickly.

Even though the vaccine was developed quickly, all of the same safety steps were followed for this vaccine that are used for all vaccines.

According to Mass.gov, vaccine companies moved quickly because: 

  • They used existing research and information on coronavirus: COVID-19 is part of a family of viruses that has been studied for a long time. The vaccine developers used this existing research to help develop the COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Governments funded vaccine research: The United States and other governments invested a lot of money to help vaccine companies with their work. Working together with other countries also helped researchers move quickly.
  • Tens of thousands of people participated in vaccine studies: Studies of the vaccine (called Clinical Trials) were conducted to prove the vaccine is safe and effective. Tens of thousands of people signed up for the studies, so companies did not need to spend a lot of time finding volunteers.
  • Manufacturing happened at the same time as the safety studies: Vaccine companies started making the vaccine at the same time as studies were happening in hopes that it would be proven safe and effective. This meant vaccines were ready to be distributed once they were approved. 

Since the vaccines were approved, millions of people of different races and ethnicities have been vaccinated, and most have only experienced mild side effects.

MYTH: The vaccine can make me sick with COVID-19.
FACT: None of the vaccines authorized by the CDC or in development in the United States contain live virus, so they cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

There are several different types of vaccines in development. All of them teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection.

MYTH: It’s okay to stop wearing masks and social distancing after I get the vaccine.
FACT: The vaccine is one of many tools we can use to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19.

Not enough information is currently available to say if or when CDC will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision. We also don’t yet know whether getting a COVID-19 vaccine will prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people, even if you don’t get sick yourself.

While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic.

MYTH: I don’t need to get the vaccine if I already had COVID-19.
FACT: We don’t know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19.

The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long.

We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have more data on how well the vaccines work.

Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA.
FACT: COVID-19 mRNA vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way.

Messenger RNA vaccines—also called mRNA vaccines—are the first COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States. mRNA vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease. Learn more about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work. ​

At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection. That immune response and making antibodies is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.

MYTH: The vaccine isn’t safe for people who are trying to become pregnant.
FACT: People who want to get pregnant in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant in the short or long term. Scientists study every vaccine carefully for side effects immediately and for years afterward. The COVID-19 vaccines are being studied carefully now and will continue to be studied for many years, similar to other vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccine, like other vaccines, works by training our bodies to develop antibodies to fight against the virus that causes COVID-19, to prevent future illness. There is currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of ANY vaccine. People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.


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Topics: COVID-19

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