FALLS CHURCH, Va. –
As of today, more than 140 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. New vaccinations are happening every day, and it’s a sign of how far we’ve come since the start of the pandemic. Still, there are those who’ve decided to hold off on getting the COVID-19 vaccine until they learn more about it. Does that sound like you or someone you know? Whether you have lingering questions about vaccine safety or you want to learn more about how they’re developed, TRICARE’s here to help you learn the facts.
Here’s a look at common COVID-19 vaccine myths and the facts you need to know.
MYTH: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine can make you sick with COVID-19.
FACT: This isn’t true. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, none of the COVID-19 vaccines that are approved or in development in the U.S. are live virus vaccines. That means none of them can give you COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines. They work by giving your cells instructions for how to make a harmless piece of what’s called a “spike protein.” It’s the same protein found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. Once your body makes this spike protein, your immune system will recognize that it doesn’t belong there and responds by making antibodies, which protect you from infection.
The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (also known as the J&J vaccine) is a viral vector vaccine. It uses a modified and harmless version of a different virus to instruct your cells to make spike proteins. This triggers an immune response in your body to protect you from infection. All three of the vaccines allow your body to build protection without you getting sick with COVID-19.
Now, while your body is building immunity, you could experience some side effects 1-2 days after getting the shot. These include:
- Muscle pain
- Pain in your arm where received the shot
These are normal signs that your body is building protection against the virus and side effects should go away in a few days. Keep in mind, the chance of having an adverse reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine is very rare. While many people have reported only mild side effects or none at all, the vaccines continue to undergo rigorous safety monitoring.
“COVID-19 safety monitoring is a top priority for the FDA and CDC and all public health professionals,” Dr. Margaret Ryan, medical director of the Defense Health Agency Immunization Healthcare team in the Pacific Region. “All adverse reactions are considered very seriously. The temporary pause in the use of Janssen vaccine in April was evidence that the vaccine safety monitoring system is active.”
MYTH: Developers rushed the COVID-19 vaccines, so they may not be safe.
FACT: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines. That means they’re safe, effective, and have gone through the same safety tests and meet the same standards as other approved vaccines. While the vaccines were developed in record time, it doesn’t mean the research was rushed.
“The technology used to develop the COVID-19 vaccines has actually been in development for many years,” added Dr. Ryan. “Many professionals worked together, from all over the world, to bring together what was already known in vaccine science and develop safe, effective vaccines to address the pandemic. It was a great accomplishment in collaborative vaccine science.”
Visit Understanding How COVID-19 Vaccines Work for more on vaccine safety and development.
MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA.
FACT: Not true. The CDC states, “COVID-19 vaccines don’t change or interact with your DNA in any way.” When the mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions to your cells to build protection against the virus, the material doesn’t enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where your DNA is stored.
As you learn more about COVID-19 vaccines, remember that getting fully vaccinated doesn’t just protect you. It will also protect the people you care about, including your family and friends. And now youth ages 12-15 qualify for the Pfizer vaccine. So, check with your local vaccination site to see if it’s available. If you have any questions or concerns about getting the vaccine, be sure to discuss them with your doctor.
For more myths and facts about the COVID-19 vaccine, go to the CDC website. Need help getting your vaccine? Visit the TRICARE website for links to Department of Defense vaccination sites and other options for where you can get the vaccine. Take command of your health, and play a role in ending the pandemic by getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
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At the time of posting, this information is current. Visit www.cdc.gov or TRICARE COVID Guidance for the most current COVID-19 information.