Debunking COVID-19 vaccine myths

Illustration by Ruqayyah Muslim | The Signal

The year 2020 has finally come to an end, and many hope to leave their troubles behind them. But the difficulties of last year are bound to bleed into 2021.

These difficulties are especially true concerning COVID-19, specifically distributing a vaccine and concerns of long-term and severe side-effects. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two prominent COVID-19 vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, are “authorized and recommended in preventing COVID-19”. 

However, the rushed development and approval of these vaccines has resulted in the circulation of unbacked claims concerning their safety, effectiveness and side effects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some popular myths that are proven false by science include those concerning microchipping the public, altering people’s DNA and infertility.

Humza Baig, a Georgia State alumni with a biology degree, works as an Assay Development Scientist in the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the CDC. 

“I do not speak on behalf of the CDC, but I can say that I do not have concerns about these vaccines,” he said. “While the vaccine is rushed, the science behind it has been around for quite some time. How this vaccine works is essentially quite different from those we have come to know, such as ones for flu. In fact, its science is much safer than typical vaccines.” 

Even with this information made known to the public, many are still wary of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 

In a national poll conducted by ABC News, 15% of Americans still say they would refuse to take any COVID-19 vaccination altogether. 

Matt Hayat, a biostatistics professor in the Georgia State School of Public Health, has been a practicing applied biostatistician for more than 20 years.

“I think that people should get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Hayat said. “There are competing risks from side effects of the vaccine and of exposure to SARS-COV-2. When comparing the two, any possible side effects of the vaccine are much preferred to those of the virus.” 

Kim Rissler is a Registered Nurse who has been in the medical field for over 20 years. Currently, Rissler is employed at Soleo Health, working alongside coworkers who received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine. 

“In my professional opinion, everyone should get vaccinated,” she said. “The two vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective with very few serious adverse reactions. There are higher health risks from contracting COVID-19 than there are from these vaccines.” 

While this past year has been unpredictable and draining, the new year brings sentiments of hope and change. While many are still concerned and frightened, the vaccine is the first step toward placing the virus in the past.

“This vaccine is a huge step toward returning to a pre-pandemic lifestyle,” Baig said. “Once one is eligible to receive the vaccine, they should receive it. If everyone plays their role in achieving herd immunity, we can end this pandemic together.”