The topic of COVID-19 vaccination is continuously present in today’s daily news cycle. Our busy primary care office has incorporated discussion of vaccine availability and safety into almost every recent office visit. Much of our time has been spent combatting confusion and misinformation. We have successfully calmed many of our patient’s anxieties and fears and have acted as a trusted source of information by conveying scientifically valid information.
News about the delta variant continues to increase focus on vaccines. Nationwide, 50% of residents are fully vaccinated and more than 70% of adults have received at least one dose, yet the U.S. now averages 100,000 new COVID-19 infections a day. In fact, COVID-19 was recently called “a pandemic of the unvaccinated” by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To help you help your patients, we’ve put together a list of several common myths about the COVID-19 vaccine.
MYTH: I DON’T NEED THE VACCINE IF I ALREADY HAD COVID-19.
If you have recovered from COVID-19, you may still benefit from getting the vaccine, even though you likely developed a natural immunity to that variant as a result. Re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, and the vaccine may lessen the severity if you get sick with COVID-19 again. Scientists are also not yet sure how long natural immunity lasts, so the vaccine will protect you if that natural immunity lapses. Some scientists also believe you will have better protection from re-infection, regardless of variant, with the vaccine versus natural immunity.
If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
If you have a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults (MIS-A) or children (MIS-C) you should consider delaying vaccination until you have recovered from being sick and for 90 days after the date of your diagnosis of MIS-A or MIS-C.
MYTH: THE COVID-19 VACCINE WILL MAKE ME SICK WITH COVID-19.
The COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick because none of the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. The COVID-19 vaccine can cause side effects — like fever, headache, and tiredness which are normal signs your body is building protection against the virus, and should go away within a few days.
MYTH: I CAN’T SPREAD THE DELTA VARIANT IF I HAVE BEEN VACCINATED.
Even if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, you can get sick with the delta variant and are able to spread it to others if you are symptomatic. Fully vaccinated people who get sick with the delta variant are likely infectious for less time than unvaccinated people, meaning they can spread it for less time. There is still not enough data to determine whether fully vaccinated people who have an asymptomatic infection with the delta variant can spread it.
MYTH: THE VACCINE WON’T PROTECT ME FROM THE DELTA VARIANT.
Although currently available COVID-19 vaccines are slightly less effective against emerging COVID-19 variants, they still appear to protect you against getting a severe case of COVID-19.
MYTH: I CAN’T GET THE VACCINE IF I WANT TO GET PREGNANT.
Whether you’re trying to become pregnant now or want to someday, you may get the COVID-19 vaccine. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes problems with pregnancy, including the with development of the placenta or with male or female fertility. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant individuals and all individuals who may consider future pregnancy be vaccinated with any of the currently available vaccines.
However, pregnant and post-partum people less than 50 years old should be aware of the rare risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after receipt of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine.
MYTH: I CAN’T GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE IF I’M BREASTFEEDING.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that lactating people be vaccinated with any of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines. If you have been vaccinated and you are breastfeeding, you may pass antibodies through your breast milk that may help protect your infant from COVID-19.
However, lactating people less than 50 years old should be aware of the rare risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) after receiving the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccine.
MYTH: THE COVID-19 VACCINE WILL DISRUPT PUBERTY.
There is no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine affects puberty.
MYTH: I CAN’T GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE IF I HAVE ALLERGIES THAT ARE NOT RELATED TO VACCINES OR INJECTIBLE MEDICATIONS — LIKE FOOD ALLERGIES.
If you have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications — such as food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you have a history of allergies to oral medications, or a family history of severe allergic reactions, the CDC also recommends you get vaccinated.
Sterling N. Ransone, Jr., MD, FAAFP