Just The Facts - Setting the Record Straight on COVID-19 Vaccines
Jefferson County Health Center (JCHC) encourages anyone 12 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. Wide-spread vaccinations are our path out of the pandemic and the key to a return to normalcy. Vaccines are now readily available at most pharmacies and health care facilities across Iowa, including at JCHC.
Since the pandemic began, there has been an immeasurable amount of misinformation and disinformation distributed regarding COVID-19 and vaccination. This post seeks to dispel the myths and falsehoods surrounding vaccines so that you can make an informed decision about your health. All sources for relevant information are linked at the bottom of this article.
Myth #1: The vaccines were developed too fast, and therefore are not safe.
This myth is FALSE!
It is true that the three FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson) were developed in record time to combat the pandemic. However, all of the vaccines went through a rigorous clinical trial period to determine 1) the safety of the vaccine; and 2) the effectiveness of the vaccine. All three vaccines were proven to be both incredibly safe, and very effective at preventing COVID-19 illness.1
The vaccines were developed more quickly than others in the past because of decades of research and technological advances that allowed rapid development to occur. Watch this video featuring a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics researcher to learn more about development of mRNA vaccine technology that the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines use.2
In addition, COVID-19’s impact on the globe prompted many companies and governments, including the United States, to increase funding and resources toward vaccine development. This funding enabled companies to rapidly increase the speed at which vaccines could be tested and provided the resources to scale up manufacturing for millions of doses.3
Myth #2: The vaccine can give me COVID-19.
This myth is FALSE!
None of the authorized vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19.4 This means there is no possibility that a vaccine will make you sick with COVID-19.
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are mRNA vaccines. They work by delivering a set of instructions to your cells, which tells your cells to make a harmless piece of a spike protein that is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. When your cells create the spike protein, it triggers your immune system to create antibodies to remove it. After the protein is removed, your body will remember the event and know how to protect you in the future.5
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. The primary difference is that while mRNA vaccines deliver a set of instructions to your cells, the viral vector vaccine delivers a different, harmless virus called the vector. The vector causes your cells to produce the spike protein found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. The end result is the same. Your immune system creates antibodies to remove the spike protein, and your body remembers how to protect you in the future.6
Myth #3: The vaccine side effects are worse than COVID-19.
This myth is FALSE!
The vaccines may cause mild side effects, including pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; tiredness; headache; muscle pain; chills; fever; or nausea. But these side effects are NOT cause for alarm. They are signs that your body is building a protection against COVID-19, and should go away in 2-3 days.7
The CDC and FDA continuously monitor reports of side effects; serious safety problems with COVID-19 vaccines are highly uncommon.8 There have been very rare cases of thrombosis associated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but this has only occurred at a rate of about 7 events per 1 million vaccinations. After discovering this side effect, the CDC and FDA even paused Johnson & Johnson vaccinations to review any safety concerns and determined that benefits of the vaccine far outweighed the negligible risk.9
What Are Your Next Steps?
We want everyone to be protected against COVID-19. Here are some steps to take to make sure that happens.
- Speak with your primary care provider if you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines. They know your medical history and will help you make the best decision possible.
- If you receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, be sure to get the second dose at 28 days, or 21 days respectively. You don’t have to go to the same facility to receive your second dose, though JCHC makes it easy for you to schedule your next appointment.
- If you are late for your booster shot for the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, you don’t need to start all over. Just be sure to get your second dose as soon as you are able.
- Remember, after you are fully vaccinated you can begin doing the activities you did before the pandemic. The CDC has a helpful guide here.
JCHC is here to help you be the healthiest you can be. See the different ways you can get vaccinated here, and contact us if you have any questions.