Covid-19 vaccines are here, and to dispel any uncertainty around them, Qured's Clinical Lead, Dr Kishan Vithlani answers all.
Myth 1: Scientists produced the Covid-19 vaccine quickly, so it probably isn't safe.
Yes, the vaccine has been produced and approved quickly, but it's important to remember that this is because of global efforts; both financial and scientific experts have come together and focused on the task at hand. They have also utilised pre-existing research from other viruses such as Ebola and Zika virus. Furthermore, vaccines in the UK undergo scrutiny by regulatory bodies to assess their clinical trials' outcomes, and strict safety standards need to be met before being rolled out. Due to the prevalence of Covid-19, volunteers for the clinical trials were more readily available, which allowed data to be collected more efficiently.
Myth 2: The coronavirus vaccine might make me unwell with the Covid-19 virus.
None of the current Covid-19 vaccines contain live viruses, and therefore you will not develop Covid-19 due to having the vaccine. Vaccines work by teaching your immune system how to detect and fight off a specific organism in the event of an infection. Whilst it's doing this, it is normal for some people to develop mild side effects such as fever and flu-like symptoms – these indicate that your body is going through the learning process. It is important to remember that vaccines will take 2-3 weeks to start working. Therefore, if you have caught coronavirus in the period immediately before the vaccination or in a few weeks after, you may still become unwell.
Myth 3: I might start testing positive on Covid-19 swab tests if I have the Covid-19 vaccine.
This is untrue. You will not test positive on Covid-19 swab tests (including both PCR and lateral/rapid flow tests) as the vaccines do not administer any live infection, as explained in myth 2. However, there is a possibility that you may test positive on antibody tests, which are used to check if you have developed an immune response to the infection. Testing positive on an antibody test would not impact your ability to travel.
Myth 4: If I've already had Covid-19 and recovered successfully, I no longer need to have the vaccine.
Re-infection with Covid-19 is uncommon, but you should still have the vaccine if it is available to you due to the health risks associated with coronavirus. This is because we do not yet know for certain how long immunity lasts following natural infection; it varies on an individual basis, and according to the severity of the initial illness. We are currently awaiting data on how long immunity lasts following the vaccine, and this will help dictate how frequently a follow-up vaccination may be required.
Myth 5: There is no point in taking the vaccine unless everyone is vaccinated.
Once an individual is vaccinated, they will develop protection through an immune response from their immune system. The idea of vaccinating more people in the population is to help those who are more vulnerable, such as babies and those who are unable to have the vaccine.
Myth 6:The vaccine will administer a microchip that will track and collect data.
This is not true or even possible! The vaccine works by allowing the immune system to detect a foreign body, thereby developing a memory to fight off anything that resembles that specific structure or organism. Once this process is complete, the vaccine has done its job and is subsequently cleared from the body.
Myth 7: Once I have had the Covid-19 vaccine, I won't ever get the infection.
This is untrue. Whilst the vaccine may protect you from getting severe illness from Covid-19, it does not protect you from not getting it at all. This also means you can still pass the infection on to others. As a result, it is vital to still make sure we protect others who may not have had the vaccine or cannot have it. Make sure you still continue to follow hand hygiene, face-covering, and social distancing measures even after you've had the vaccine.
Myth 8: I have had the pneumonia vaccine so this will cover me and I won't need the Covid-19 vaccine.
This is untrue. Covid-19 is different from the organisms to which the pneumonia vaccine protects against. If you are eligible for the pneumonia vaccine, you should still have this AND the Covid-19 vaccine when it is offered to you.
References: Covid-19: Busting the vaccine myths - Sunderland University Myths and Facts about Covid-19 Vaccines - CDC Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Mythbusters - WHO Covid-19 Vaccine Programme - Myth Busting - Norfolk and Waveney CCG Debunking Covid-19 vaccine myths - UCL
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