This past year, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines have all been approved by the CDC and become available to the general public, yet we have also seen a rise in doubt towards this science. There are many misleading ideas that have been brought to light about the vaccines, so it is necessary to debunk the myths surrounding them.

#1 “I have no idea what the scientists are putting into the vaccine. What if it’s toxic and they’re really trying to harm us?”

Scientists have worked long and hard to create a vaccine that will safely protect people from the risk of contracting the serious side effects of the coronavirus. Hackensack Meridian Health, a medical research center located in New Jersey, explained the ingredients in other vaccines as, “[reliant] on weakened and inactivated pathogens or a fragment of the pathogen to trigger an immune response. In contrast, the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines use a new approach by which mRNA is delivered into our cells to provide the genetic instructions for our own cells to ‘temporarily’ make a ‘specific’ viral protein (the coronavirus spike protein) that triggers an immune response.” Basically what’s happening is, when we get injected with the vaccine, we are being injected with a small portion of what creates the disease. While this sounds scary, it is building up our own immune system and making it so Covid-19 cannot have as much of a reaction on our bodies. This is the same thing that happens when we get our flu shots, we are building up our immunity. Many people have also spread the rumor that vaccines include ingredients such as wheat, eggs, dairy, or gluten. These rumors have again been shut down by both Hackensack Meridian Health and the CDC. Juan Ravell, M.D., division chief of allergy and immunology at Hackensack University Medical Center, said, “These ingredients are safe, and the development of these COVID-19 vaccines marks a huge step towards acquiring herd immunity and the end of this pandemic.” 

#2 “The government is just trying to track us through these vaccines!”

A video shared not too long ago on Facebook claimed that the government would use the vaccine to insert a chip in your body, this one video gained over 80 thousand shares. It sparked fear and the creation of many conspiracies. Many health experts, however, have been quick to address these rumors. Reuters News spoke to Steve Hofman, a spokesperson for Apijects, a start-up company that has created a new prefilled injector, and that is currently working with the CDC, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Defense to use these injectors when giving out the COVID-19 vaccines. Hofman confirmed, “this optional microchip for the label of the COVID-19 vaccine, which hasn’t yet been requested by U.S. officials, would not gather personal information of the individual that receives the inoculation nor track their location. It will share when and where injections are taking place, if the dosage has expired or if it is counterfeit.” In other words, there will not be a microchip in your vaccine. The rumors that were being spread were speaking specifically about the few people who had chosen to be part of an optional test involving a microchip. This is not a common test, and it will not be used in common vaccine sites. These microchips also aren’t even implanted into the body; they’re on the outside of the vaccine vials in order for the CDC to get an idea of where and when the vaccines are being distributed. Through this, we know that there is no reason to worry that you will be under any control of the government via microchip.

#3 “I’ve already had COVID-19. If I am fine after it, why would I need a vaccine?”

Even if you have had COVID-19 in the past, it is still much safer for you to get the vaccine. In December, researchers told The New York Times, “volunteers who received the Moderna shot had more antibodies—one marker of immune response—in their blood than did people who had been sick with COVID-19.” There have even been a few reported cases of people getting infected twice. This is because while you may have antibodies in your system for some amount of time, the World Health Organization has stated that immunity through antibodies can only last for up to eight months. Through this research, scientists have concluded that the best way to stop the spread of the virus and to look out for your own health is to get vaccinated.

#4 “I’ve seen online that the Pfizer vaccine can make me infertile; I don’t want to risk it.” 

This rumor floated around on social media for months, and still has many women worried about their fertility. These claims were drawn from a petition co-written by Dr. Michael Yeadon, who wrote about how the genetic materials that are being inserted into the body and how they would negatively affect young women who wanted the vaccine. He implied that the components of the vaccine could disrupt women’s reproductive systems. His blog post threw women across the world into a frenzy, unsure if they should believe him or their government. However, Stephanie Langel, an immunologist, and expert in maternal and neonatal immunity at Duke University, spoke to The New York Times about the comparison he had made. She explained that the COVID-19 spike and the placental protein have little to nothing in common. She said, “The vaccine is highly unlikely to trigger a reaction to these delicate tissues. The two proteins share only a minuscule stretch of material; mixing them up would be akin to mistaking a rhinoceros for a jaguar because they are wearing the same collar.” Pfizer itself has even rejected these claims. An emailed statement by the company said, “There is no data to suggest that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine candidate causes infertility.”

These vaccines have sparked a newfound fear across the globe, and that is no surprise; it is difficult to navigate through the rumors circulating the vaccine. In the end, getting vaccinated will help us return to the life we knew before the pandemic. If you or a family member is looking to get vaccinated, click here to find where you can get the vaccine and how the process goes.

 

Ellie Hultgren

Ellie Hultgren is a junior at M-A this year. She enjoys writing about the M-A sports teams, and the community at M-A. In her free time, Ellie spends time with her friends, watches basketball, and travels.

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