COVID-19 vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and highly effective at reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalizations and death. Unfortunately, misinformation and pervasive myths continue to sow doubt, leaving many unprotected.
Roughly 99% of deaths linked to COVID-19 in the latest wave — and the vast majority of cases involving severe symptoms that require hospitalization — were among patients who weren’t fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“With high levels of community spread of COVID-19, we’re once again fighting a two-front war: against the virus and against rampant misinformation,” says American Medical Association president, Gerald E. Harmon, M.D.
Here are some of the top myths physicians are hearing and what you need to know:
Can COVID-19 vaccines impact fertility? Risks to fertility or the ability to become pregnant after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine were disproven through clinical trials and real-world data points. While pregnant women weren’t specifically targeted for vaccine trials, several participants became pregnant without issue during the trial duration and there’s been no demonstrated real-world impact on fertility. Moreover, COVID-19 itself carries significant risks for pregnant women, including higher risks of preterm labor and stillbirth, and higher risks of hypertension and pneumonia for pregnant women. There’s also no evidence showing that COVID-19 vaccines affect male fertility.
Can vaccinated people “shed” spike proteins, affecting those close to them? Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States contain a live virus, so it’s not biologically possible for a vaccinated person to affect an unvaccinated person by proxy or by “shedding” spike proteins.
I’ve already had COVID-19. Do I need the vaccine? Yes, the data shows that unvaccinated individuals are more than twice as likely to be reinfected with COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated after initially contracting the virus. Getting the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and those around you.
Why do I need the vaccine if breakthrough infections are possible? Some fully vaccinated people will still get sick because no vaccine is 100% effective. However, data show that vaccination may make COVID-19 symptoms less severe. The vaccines have also been shown to provide substantial protection against death and hospitalization in cases of breakthrough infection.
I’m young and healthy. Do I really need the vaccine? Many young, previously healthy people have gotten seriously ill or died from COVID-19, and those numbers are increasing with new, more transmissible variants. There’s no way to predict how you’ll respond to infection. Additionally, vaccines help prevent you from carrying the virus and transmitting it to others. Reducing the number of unvaccinated people will mitigate transmission of the virus.
I have allergies. Should I be worried about a reaction to the vaccine? There have been very rare (2.5-5 people per million) reports of severe (anaphylactic) allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines. Having severe allergic reactions to certain foods, bee stings or oral medications doesn’t mean you will have an allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccination sites are prepared to evaluate and handle these situations on individual bases.
More fact-based vaccine information can be found by visiting cdc.gov or getvaccineanswers.org.
“The evidence around vaccinations is abundantly clear; they’re safe, effective and will help protect you and your loved ones from severe COVID and death,” says Dr. Harmon. “If you have questions about the vaccine, its safety, or effectiveness, please speak to your physician. We are here for you, eager to answer your questions, and get you protected from this virus.”