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Vaccines and confronting misinformation


Since people who were vaccinated still get COVID-19 disease, why bother with the vaccine?

It is true that immunity from COVID-19 infection and from COVID-19 vaccination do wane over time. Neither the infection nor the vaccine protects against reinfection with COVID-19 subsequently.  The benefit of the vaccine is its protection against severe COVID-19 disease (hospitalization, ICU admission, and death).  Individuals who received the updated COVID-19 bivalent booster are 14 times less likely to die compared with those who received no vaccine (and three times less likely to die compared with those who received only the primary series of COVID-19 vaccines). 


Would it be better to wait for a school-age child or adolescent to get COVID-19 disease and develop natural immunity than take chances with a vaccine? 

It is much safer to get the vaccine -- even with its rare and its common side-effects -- than to take chances of developing severe COVID-19 disease or ‘long-COVID’.


Hospitalizations for adolescents with COVID-19 disease are 2-5 to 3 times higher than hospitalizations for flu at that age.  Although most unvaccinated adolescents who are hospitalized for COVID-19 disease have an underlying condition (like obesity or moderate to severe asthma), 30% of those who were hospitalized for COVID-19 had no underlying condition at all. In short, significant health problems from COVID-19 disease are far more serious and far more frequent than significant health problems from the vaccine, even in young teen males.  



Since there are drugs that are recalled after a few years, how can we trust vaccines that are as new as the COVID-19 vaccinations? 

 For any vaccine, not just COVID-19, monitoring has shown that side effects happen within 6-8 weeks of receiving a vaccine dose. A lot of data has been amassed on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines within this time period and years beyond, since COVID-19 vaccines were initially administered. 

 It can take years before enough people have taken a drug to identify enough rare adverse events to pull a drug off the market. In contrast, as of October 2022, 12.7 billion doses of vaccine have been administered worldwide (of which 613 million were administered in the U.S.) with a very, very small number of serious adverse events. If these COVID-19 vaccines caused serious adverse events, they would have been recognized by now. 


Does the federal database called “VAERS” (vaccine adverse reaction reporting system) show high numbers of problems after the COVID vaccine?  

VAERS is a system that accepts reports of any and all health-related events in the days, weeks and months following vaccination. It is not designed to detect if a vaccine caused the health event (whether or not it was truly a side effect). What is good about the VAERS system, is that it can help identify very unusual and unexpected problems after a vaccine. Although this makes VAERS very useful, its value is extremely limited because it also includes all problems that occurred after the  vaccine that were not caused by the vaccine. For example, if you happen to get a cold 3 days after you  got a vaccine, you cannot really say for sure that that vaccine causes colds. Yet anything that happens in the days and weeks and months after one gets a vaccine can be included in VAERS. While only a small portion of adverse reactions get reported to the VAERS, anyone, including patients, parents, and  healthcare providers, can include reports in the VAERS. As such, COVID-19 vaccine adverse events reported in the VAERS could be intentionally or unintentionally inaccurate. Furthermore, the number  of reports to VAERS increases in response to media attention and increased public awareness. In  short, VAERS is only a first-step for scientists figuring out what may be a side effect of a vaccine.  Anything that looks unusual is investigated further. It is to use VAERS to determine what problems are really caused by the vaccine. It would also be wrong to determine the frequency (or percentage of  people) of any given side effect caused by a vaccine using VAERS.  


Are there vaccine-related deaths? 


The very tiny percentage of deaths where COVID vaccine is attributed as the cause are due to anaphylactic (severe allergic) reactions that occur soon after administration of the vaccination (for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) and to blood clots after receiving the vaccination (for Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Now that these rare adverse events have been identified, they are anticipated and prevented. 

How can the COVID vaccine be recommended or mandated since there are warnings about myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation), especially in younger (teen) males?


Myocarditis or pericarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle or lining) can occur within a few days after the vaccination.  Myocarditis occurs in only 0.007% of vaccinated people, between 1 to 28 days after vaccination. Chances are highest after the second vaccination in young males (who experience this at twice the rate as young females).  Post-vaccination myocarditis is a mild and temporary condition and resolves itself.  It is true that among men young men (i.e., those younger than 40 years old), the number of myocarditis events per million people is higher after a second dose of vaccine than after getting COVID-19 disease.  However, the severity of the myocarditis after the vaccine is less than the severity of myocarditis after disease.  Although 70 males per one million vaccinated males (ages 12-17) can get myocarditis from the vaccine, the vaccine in that age group will prevent 215 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. 

How about the risks of myocarditis after a third dose of vaccine? The chances of getting myocarditis after third dose of vaccine in young men drops significantly and is much lower than the chances of myocarditis of the second dose.  


What about all those things people read on the internet, that the vaccine contains microchips? Or that it causes you to be magnetic? Or that it can alter your DNA? Or that it can cause infertility? 

These are myths that have no basis in reality. Most of these allegations (magnetic, microchips, altered DNA) are not even remotely possible. Others (infertility) simply have no evidence, even though public health officials are looking for all such possible side effects. The CDC has dealt with each one, plus others, on its website: Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC