The biggest vaccine myths debunked

Mar 05, 2021
There will always be people who are anti-vaxxers, and even more people who are “vaccine hesitant”. Source: Getty

When two elderly people in Queensland were given four times the dose of the Pfizer vaccine during the initial week of the Australian vaccination program the anti-vaxxers had a field day. But this unfortunate mistake has actually backfired in the face of the anti-vaxxers, because despite these people administering such a big dose of the vaccine and being in the very elderly group, neither had a bad reaction and almost certainly now have good immunity to Covid-19. In my view, this is even more evidence supporting the safety of vaccines.

With the vaccine rollout now occurring in Australia, it’s important to dismiss any ridiculous conspiracy theories and myths that surround this vaccine. A recent article in the medical website, Medical News Today, examined many of the myths surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine and I thought I would cover some of the key ones raised, as I believe the topic is so important.

Myth 1: The Covid-19 vaccine is not safe because it’s been developed so quickly

This is not true because there has been research into various coronaviruses for a number of years – especially since the SARS and MERS outbreaks. Many of the technologies connected to the current vaccine have stemmed from this research. Secondly, because this has been a worldwide pandemic, there has been enormous co-operation and collaboration from governments and scientific bodies around the world, with a marked increase in funding to bring the vaccine to fruition quickly. Thirdly, typically in vaccine trials there is a shortage of volunteers but because of the major effect of this pandemic around the world, there’s been hundreds of thousands of people volunteering for the vaccine trials. Fourthly, because of marked improvement in technologies in the past few decades, there has been rapid genome sequencing of SARS-COV2 and therefore more accurate and effective vaccines have been able to be developed much more quickly.

Myth 2: The vaccine will alter my DNA

Some Covid-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, are based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. These vaccines work differently from traditional types of vaccines. Following the genetic advances, there has been some nonsense spread about the potential for the mRNA vaccines to affect DNA. The reality is that the mRNA vaccines cannot even reach the cell’s nucleus, which is where our DNA is located, so they can’t have any effect on DNA.

Myth 3: The vaccine will give me Covid-19

The old chestnut that vaccines can give you the virus is simply not true. This is because there’s no live virus in the vaccination. Any headaches, fever and chills you may feel in the days following the vaccination are simply your body’s immune response and are not signs of an infection.

Myth 4: People who have had Covid-19 do not need the vaccine

Those who have tested positive are possibly covered, but there’s a chance for reinfection in a small amount of cases, so it’s better to have the booster vaccination. There’s also a chance that the initial test produced a false positive, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and get the vaccine.

Myth 5: The vaccine is not suitable for the immunocompromised or people with pre-existing conditions.

This myth is nonsense. In fact, it is the most vulnerable who benefit the most from vaccination, especially those with conditions such as obesity and heart disease, as these can increase the risk of developing more severe Covid-19 symptoms.

The only exception is people who are allergic to any component of the vaccine. Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to any vaccine in the past should speak with their doctor.

Myth 6: After receiving the vaccine, you can resume a normal (i.e. pre-Covid) life

Covid-19 vaccines aim to prevent people from becoming gravely ill following an infection. However, scientists do not yet know whether the vaccines will prevent infection, so a person who has been vaccinated may still be able to carry the virus, which means they might also be able to transmit it. As a result, people should continue to wash their hands frequently, practice social distancing and wear a mask in busy public places after they have been vaccinated.

Furthermore, according to the World Health Organisation, “It’s too early to know if Covid-19 vaccines will provide long-term protection.” So we may end up needing to have an annual Covid-19 shot, similar to the flu shot.

Prize for the most bizarre myth I’ve heard goes to: The suggestion that the vaccine contains a microchip put there by ‘evil’ Bill Gates.

According to some, this microchip will allow unnamed elites to track their every move. In reality, our mobile phones already complete that task effortlessly. If you believe these kinds of wacko conspiracy theories regarding the man who has gifted much of his fortune to improving the health of people in developing countries, you seriously need to look at the source of your information. The sort of technology suggested could not possibly fit through a needle in the first place, if indeed this technology was available.

The reality is that the vaccinations are the greatest health innovation of the past century and continue to be our major hope for life returning to normal once the Covid-19 pandemic has been controlled. Already we are seeing the rates of Covid-19 falling in countries where the vaccination programs have been heavily rolled out. In Israel, where the majority of the adult population is now vaccinated, the case rates are dropping like flies.

There will always be people who are anti-vaxxers, and even more people who are “vaccine hesitant”. In many cases, people are just scared of having needles. What everyone needs to understand is that you will be having many more needles and need much more medical attention if you get the severe version of Covid-19. So, having a small scratch on your arm to prevent a virus that has brought the world to its knees is a small price to pay so we can all get our lives back to normal.

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Were you concerned about any of these theories? Has this article cleared it up for you?

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