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Drew: Facts vs. Fiction of the COVID Vaccine

By Samuetta Hill Drew

President Joe Biden made a campaign promise to the American people to increase COVID-19 vaccination availability to citizens a priority. So far, the Biden-Harris administration has lived up to the campaign promise by increasing the vaccine supply to states, Tribes and territories. Also last month President Biden announced that the first phase of the federal pharmacy program would be launched and select pharmacies nationwide would start offering the vaccine.

Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration authorized Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. It is the first single dose COVID-19 vaccine available in the U.S.

With all these increased efforts to push more vaccines out to the general population quicker, many citizens remain skeptical about the vaccine and some are opting not to take it. Their skepticism is based upon many myths swirling out on social media, media airways and plain old fashion word of mouth. Therefore, the next few articles will address some of the most popular myths, along with the facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Johns Hopkins and other schools of medicine across the country. Since I am not a scientist nor in the medical profession, much of the factual contents will be taken directly from these sources.

MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA

FACTS: The two federal authorized vaccines – Pfizer-BioTech and Moderna are messenger RNA vaccines. The mRNA instructs cells to make the “spike protein” found on the new coronavirus. The mRNA does enter the cells, but never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA (genetic material) is kept. The mRNA does its job to cause the cell to make protein to stimulate the immune systems, and then it quickly breaks down without affecting your DNA. When the immune system recognizes this protein, it builds an immune response by creating antibodies – teaching the body how to protect against further infection. The body gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.

MYTH: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine means I can stop wearing my mask and taking COVID-19 precautions.

FACTS:  Individuals who get the COVID-19 vaccination still needs to practice infection prevention COVID-19 precautions. Masking, hand washing, and staying at least six feet from others outside your household, until further notice. Because of the new COVID-19 variants, the CDC is recommending wearing double masks. Vaccines do not stop the coronavirus from entering your body: they only prevent you from developing moderate to severe COVID-19. It is not yet clear if people vaccinated for COVID-19 can still carry and transmit the virus, even when they themselves do not get sick. So, the best protection we can offer each other right now is to continue to follow COVID-19 guidelines. As more people are vaccinated, experts will have a better idea of how long natural and vaccine immunity last, then public health experts will update their guidance, as necessary.

MYTH: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine gives you COVID-19.

FACTS: You cannot get COVID-19 from the two federally authorized vaccines because it does not contain the live virus. They instruct your cells to reproduce a protein that is part of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-CoV-2 coronavirus, which helps your body recognize and fight the virus, if it comes along. COVID-19 vaccine does not contain the SARS-CoV-2 virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The protein that helps your immune system recognize and fight the virus does not cause infection of any sort.

 So, let us Keep an Eye on Safety by making our vaccine decisions for ourselves and our loved ones based upon facts not myths.