Debunking Vaccine Myths

By Channing Icenogle

It has been over 300 days since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Since then, there have been over 95 million cases worldwide and sadly 2 million deaths as a result. With masks, social distancing, working from home, lockdowns and an abundance of hand sanitizer, the world has made major social and communal adjustments to prevent the spread of the dangerous virus. Numerous people have grown frustrated at their confinement, longing for the day that they can return to “normal life.”

Luckily, it seems that the beginning of the end of the pandemic has arrived with the the new Coronavirus vaccines. Two pharmaceutical companies — Pfizer and Moderna — have developed vaccines that are being distributed first to healthcare workers, first responders, the elderly and those who are at high risk for being severely affected by the virus. A number of other effective vaccine appear to be on the horizon. However, even though the vaccines were just recently released, there are already plenty of misconceptions about the vaccines spread across the internet. What should have been a positive event has turned into fuel for the conspiracy theorists who have deterred people from the vaccine with misinformation. In fact, a recent poll done by AP-National Opinion Research Center has shown that only 47% of adults in the United States plan to receive a Coronavirus vaccine, while 26% of people say they will not and the remaining 27% say they are unsure. These low projected vaccination rates will prove to be detrimental, as health officials claim that at least 70% of the population must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. This is when most of the population is immune to a disease, preventing major outbreak. Without people receiving the vaccines, the current pandemic will be prolonged, continuing infection and contributing to the ever-increasing death toll. In order to increase the vaccination rate, it is crucial to separate the facts from the myths around the Coronavirus vaccines.

Myths

Microchips In Vaccine
The most common conspiracy, popularized by Alex Jones on his website InfoWars, is the theory that microchips are planted in the vaccines. There is no basis for this theory as scientists like cellular biologist and professor Thomas Hope have said that the technology for such a microchip does not exist. Microchips are not small enough to fit through the 22-25 gauge needles used for injections.

People Sick After Injection
Rumors have also spread that those who receive the vaccine are given COVID-19 rather than being protected from it. Unlike some vaccines which take weakened or dead versions of the virus to act as a catalyst for immune response, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are known as RNA vaccines. These types of vaccines contain a molecule called mRNA that holds instructions that tell cells how to make a specific antigen which is used to fight a virus. Due to this, RNA vaccines contain no trace of the virus, making it impossible to infect a person simply from injection. It is important to note that while things like fever, injection site soreness, and fatigue do occur, it is not a reaction to the virus but a sign of the immune system taking action.

Government Sterilization And DNA Altering
Some posters online have been concerned that the government was involved in the making of the vaccines. These conspiracy theorists believe the vaccine will be used to modify DNA and cause mass sterilization among the population. As previously mentioned, the vaccine is classified as an RNA injection. Due to this, it would be impossible for the injection to modify DNA or sterilize people, as it only contains an instruction sequence to prepare antibodies. The process of altering DNA is extremely complex and cannot be accomplished through a vaccine. Additionally, the vaccines were created by private corporations not associated with the government. This means that the vaccine was created for the sole purpose of helping to cure COVID-19, and not altered to benefit any secret agendas the government may have.

What We Do Know

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses in order to protect to the best extent. The only notable adverse reactions that have been seen are in people who have fillers in their lips and face. The filers have a negative reaction with the vaccine ingredients causing swelling, rash and redness of the face and appendages. A few people have developed Bell’s palsy, the temporary paralyzation of the face and body after receiving the vaccine. However, it remains unclear to the Centers for Disease Control whether this was due to the vaccine or separate circumstances. Both vaccines have been tested and deemed safe for adults. They are still not available for children and adolescents under the age of 16, as they are still undergoing clinical trials.