Myth-busting: 7 facts about the COVID-19 vaccine

With COVID-19 vaccinations under way, we’re here to separate fact from fiction. Read on to find the facts behind some common myths.

Myth 1: COVID-19 vaccines can give me COVID-19.

FACT: None of the COVID-19 vaccines being developed can cause COVID-19. This includes Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted these vaccines Emergency Use Authorization in December.    

There are several other different types of vaccines also being worked on. The goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19.

Sometimes this process can cause symptoms such as fever. These symptoms are normal with many vaccines. They’re a sign that the body is building immunity.

You can learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Myth 2: I’ve already been sick with COVID-19. I won’t get any benefit from the vaccine.

FACT: Experts don’t yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. 

COVID-19 poses severe health risks. Re-infection with COVID-19 is possible. This means people may be advised to get a vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.

The immunity someone gains from having an infection (natural immunity) varies from person to person. Some early evidence seems to suggest that natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long.

Myth 3: I’m young and healthy. I won’t need the vaccine when it’s available to me.

FACT: Many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness. However, others may get a severe illness or even die. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect you without having to get the disease. 

There is no way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you’re not in a high-risk group.

Also, if you get sick, you also may spread the disease to friends, family, and others around you. Some of these people may be in a high-risk group. 

Myth 4: COVID-19 vaccines will cause positive results on COVID-19 diagnostic tests.

FACT: The EUA vaccines and other vaccines still currently in clinical trials in the United States won’t cause you to test positive on diagnostic tests. These tests are used to see if you have a current infection.

The goal of vaccination is for your body to develop an immune response. This means you may test positive on some antibody tests. 

Antibody tests indicate that you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results.

Myth 5: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine means I won’t need to wear masks anymore.

FACT: Experts still need to learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, per California’s COVID-19 website.

This means you should continue to use all the tools available to help stop this pandemic. These include:

  • Masks
  • Physical distancing
  • Washing hands often

Remember: Vaccines need time to give protection. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after any vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination. 

Myth 6: mRNA COVID-19 vaccines will alter my DNA.

FACT: Some COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid). These include the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

mRNA is not able to alter or change a person’s genetic makeup (DNA). The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way.

COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity. You can learn more about how mRNA vaccines work at the CDC’s website

Myth 7: I can pay to get on a wait list for early access to the vaccine.

FACT: There are no lists that allow you to access the vaccine ahead of schedule. There are a number of scams (PDF, 262 KB) circulating offering to add your name to a list to get early access to the vaccine in exchange for payment. Do not give your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee.

Together, COVID-19 vaccination and recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer you the best protection.

We offer many different ways to access care during the COVID-19 pandemic.