COVID-19 Vaccine Myths & Misconceptions

COVID-19 Vaccine Myths & Misconceptions

Out of the 1.1 million doses of Astrazeneca COVID-19 vaccines received in Kenya, approximately 40,000 people had received the jab by end of last week. COVID-19 vaccines develops one's immune response to the SARS-Cov-2 virus hence reduced risk of developing COVID-19 disease. Being vaccinated may also protect people around us and as a result, we are less likely to infect someone else.

However, factors such as safety, minimal sensitization awareness, myths & misconceptions about COVId-19 vaccines have resulted to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy and its low uptake in the country. 
 
As the Ministry of Health encourages Kenyans to receive the vaccine, you probably are contemplating whether to receive the jab or not. In this edition, we demystify some of the myths & misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines.
 
Myth 1: COVID-19 Vaccine’s manufacture was predetermined and accelerated thus skipping several stages of usual prolonged vaccine manufacture process.
Verdict False.

Vaccine developers didn’t skip any testing steps, but conducted some of the steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster. Since COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, vaccine manufacturers used mRNA technology which has been in development for years, to start COVID-19 vaccine development process early in the pandemic.
 
Myth 2: Vaccines will cause infertility.
Verdict: False
COVID-19 vaccine does not cause infertility. The vaccine encourages the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the coronavirus’s surface. This “teaches” the body’s immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it.
 
Myth 3: The COVID vaccine contains chemicals that harm the person who gets the vaccine.
Verdict: False
All the components that go into vaccines such as fats which protect the mRNA, salts, as well as a small amount of sugar are tested for safety, correct dosage and effectiveness. These vaccine components do not contain any material such as implants, microchips or tracking devices.
 
Myth 4: If I’ve already had COVID-19, I don’t need a vaccine.
Verdict: False
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that those who have had COVID-19 get the vaccine. Due to the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, people may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.
 
Myth 5: The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are dangerous.
Verdict: False
The COVID-19 vaccine can have side effects, but the vast majority are very short term, not serious or dangerous. Some side effects include: pain at injection site; body aches; headaches or fever, lasting for a day or two. These are signs that the vaccine is working to stimulate the immune system.
 
Should you have any allergies, please inform & discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with your doctor, who can assess your risk and provide more information about if and how you can get vaccinated safely.

Myth 6: Now that we have a vaccine for COVID-19, we can make vaccines for the common cold, HIV and other diseases.
Verdict: False
The thousands of viruses that cause various diseases are very different. Many change (mutate) year by year, making it difficult to develop one vaccine that works for a long period of time.
 
Myth 7: People with underlying conditions shouldn’t get vaccinated.
Verdict: False
People who have underlying conditions like diabetes and heart disease, for example are at a high risk for getting complications from COVID-19. Please inform your doctor about any underlying conditions that you have before receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.  
 
Myth 8: People with suppressed immune systems shouldn’t get vaccinated.
Verdict: False
People with suppressed immune systems (like from cancer treatments or autoimmune diseases) should definitely get vaccinated.
 
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines work by training and preparing the body’s natural defenses – the immune system – to recognize and fight off the viruses and bacteria they target. After vaccination, if the body is later exposed to those disease-causing germs, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness.
 
Will COVID-19 provide long term protection?
It is too early to know the duration of protection of COVID-19 vaccines. However, it’s encouraging that available data suggest that most people who recover from COVID-19 develop an immune response that provides at least some period of protection against reinfection – although we’re still learning how strong this protection is, and how long it lasts.
 
What are the names of COVID-19 vaccines in Kenya and the dosages?
Vaccine name: Pfizer & BiontechVaccine: Efficacy: 95% , Dose: 2 doses, 3 weeks apart, Type: Muscle Injection.
Vaccine name: ModernaRNA vaccine: Efficacy: 94.5%, Dose: 2 doses, 4 weeks apart, Type: Muscle Injection.
Vaccine name: AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson: Efficacy: 62-90% depending on dosage, Dose: 2 doses, 4 weeks apart, Type: Muscle Injection.
Vaccine name: Sputnik V vaccine. The vaccine is costing roughly 7,700 shillings ($70.30).
 
After receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, will I be a 100 per cent safe?
No. Being vaccinated does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk, particularly because it is still not clear the degree to which the vaccines can protect not only against disease but also against infection and transmission.
 

This information has been adopted from  WHO, AMREF Flying Doctors Webinar in partnership with  Ministry of Health and East Africa Centre for Vaccines & Immunization.