Our best hope of stopping the COVID-19 pandemic is to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can.
The vaccines are vital for anyone of advanced age or with medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity because they’re at greater risk for severe illness or death.
But there is misleading information spreading on social media about safe and effective vaccines. Know the facts to help yourself and others learn about what COVID-19 vaccines do when received.
Here are the six important facts about the vaccines with guidance on what to do. These facts are based on medical evidence and science and they directly address several rampant myths.
1. The vaccines are safe and effective.
We know this from the abundant data from the vaccine manufacturers, which has been validated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The vaccines have undergone the same rigorous clinical trial protocols and safety evaluations that have been used for years. These protocols have been proven effective for other vaccines we commonly use in the United States.
2. There are no reported serious safety concerns from the two vaccines now in use.
The majority of reported side effects have been mild and brief. But as is their practice, the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will continue to monitor the vaccines.
3. The vaccines do not cause COVID-19.
It is not possible to get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
4. The vaccines do not alter your DNA.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are messenger RNA vaccines that teach the body to produce antibodies to create immunity to the virus. They don’t interact with or alter your DNA.
5. Get the vaccine as soon as you can.
It is not yet known if having COVID-19 provides immunity, or how long that immunity might last. The CDC recommends waiting 90 days after having COVID-19 before you receive the vaccine. This allows people who do not have antibody protection against the virus to receive the vaccination first.
6. You still need to wear your mask after getting the vaccine.
It isn’t yet known if the vaccine prevents asymptomatic (no signs or symptoms) spread even by those who have been vaccinated.
Dr. Catherine O’Neal is Our Lady of the Lake’s chief medical officer and infectious disease specialist with LSU Health Sciences Center.