Questioning the legitimacy of scientific discoveries and innovations is a tradition almost as American as Super Bowl parties or Black Friday stampedes. Skepticism in itself is not an issue; asking the right questions is vital for the production of the most convenient product. However, crossing the thin line between cynical questions and devious misinformation introduces a series of dangers. With approximately 20% of the nation’s adult population being opposed to taking a COVID-19 vaccination, the danger of the virus continues to loom over the heads of tens of millions of the most susceptible Americans. As ‘herd immunity’ becomes increasingly less likely, those who refuse to grasp onto the chance to procure a vaccine will allow the virus to live through them and continue to take lives in the coming years, albeit at a lower rate than in the past year. Though it may appear illogical for this group of people to endanger the lives of others for seemingly no reason, their paranoia likely stems from one of the seemingly thousands of myths about the COVID vaccines circulating through American society, serving their purpose in dissuading the population from accepting their immunizations.
Myth: Vaccines are used to microchip people
Fact: A recent poll suggests that 28% of Americans believe that Bill Gates is attempting to use vaccines to implement microchips in people. Circulated by advisor to former president Donald Trump Roger Stone, amongst others, this theory rests on a study, funded by The Gates Foundation, into an emerging technology which could store one’s vaccine records in a special ink administered with the injection. However, this technology is yet to be implemented, and would serve as more of an invisible tattoo than a microchip. Not to mention this research was done in order to attempt to give refugees microscopic vaccination records.
Myth: Vaccines can affect women’s fertility
Fact: Fear of vaccines affecting fertility arose when a false report surfaced on social media, suggesting that the spike protein on COVID-19 was identical to another spike protein called syncytin-1. This protein is involved in both the growth and the attachment of the placenta during pregnancy. This report claimed that by getting the COVID-19 vaccine, a woman’s body would be taught to fight the naturally-occuring spike protein as well, in turn affecting her fertility. However, the spike proteins are in reality completely distinct, meaning that the COVID-19 vaccine will not hinder fertility. In fact, 23 of the women volunteering in the Pfizer vaccine tests became pregnant during the study, with only one of these 23 losing a pregnancy. The one who suffered this pregnancy loss had been given a placebo, not the actual vaccine.
Myth: If I’ve already had COVID-19, I do not need a vaccine
Fact: Even those who have previously been infected with COVID-19 benefit from getting vaccinated. Re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, and comes with severe health risks. To protect yourself from the chance of re-infection, it is advised to get a vaccine even if you have been sick with COVID-19 before.
Myth: Vaccines can not be trusted as researchers rushed their development
Fact: Every COVID-19 vaccine has gone through clinical “blinded” trials with thousands of participants. In a blinded trial, no one, save for a group of independent scientists, knows which patients received the placebo and which received the actual vaccine, assuring the legitimacy of results and preventing the drug companies from tampering. The vaccines were then subjected to further safety tests by the FDA and Health Canada, amongst other prominent authorities.
Myth: Vaccines will alter my DNA
Fact: There are currently two different types of approved COVID-19 vaccines, a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine and a viral vector vaccine. Both types of COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions to our cells to instruct them to start building protection against the virus. However, the material delivered by these vaccines never actually enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is stored. This means that the genetic material delivered by the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way.
Myth: “Vaccine shedding” can lower its effectiveness
Fact: A recent conspiracy theory that comes from a small private school in Miami, “vaccine shedding” stems from the real concept of viral shedding. This occurs when the bodies of vaccinated individuals release viral particles, creating a hypothetical risk for people in the surrounding area. However, viral shedding only takes place in vaccines which use a weakened version of the virus as their basis. That's not the basis behind any of the vaccines currently used for COVID-19, meaning that “vaccine shedding” is not a risk.
Myth: The vaccines can give me COVID-19
Fact: The vaccines only contain the code which tells your body to begin production of the antibodies required to fight off the virus, meaning that it is biologically impossible for the vaccine to give you the virus.
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Hey, my name is Dhruv Gupta and I’m a 15 year old from California. I enjoy doing robotics and math. Further, I love to stay educated on the new and contentious topics. Politically, I stand as a moderate democrat.