COVID myths

Appears in the April 2021 issue.

Dr. Ben Barlow

Local doctors who have been bombarded with questions about the COVID-19 vaccine want to set the record straight about the myths so many people might have heard. “Many patients ask us about something they read online or a video they watched,” explains Dr. Ben Barlow, chief medical officer of American Family Care, which operates an urgent care clinic in Willowbrook. “They come to us with questions like ‘Can I stop wearing a mask now that a vaccine is out?’ and our providers quickly clear up confusion by sharing solid medical facts.”

  1. If you get vaccinated, they inject the COVID-19 live virus into your body.
    False. The vaccines authorized for emergency use do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccines are made with messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19.
  2. You are not fully vaccinated until weeks after you receive a second dose.
    True. The CDC states you must get two doses for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to work. It takes several weeks for the vaccination to build immunity in your system.
  3. Testing positive for COVID-19 means you can skip the vaccine.
    False. COVID-19 is so new, no one knows for sure how long natural immunity might last. Evidence suggests reinfection is uncommon within the 90 days after someone is first infected with the coronavirus.
  4. The vaccine alters your DNA.
    False. mRNA vaccines do not change your DNA or interact with your DNA in any way.
  5. Once I get a shot, I still need to wear a mask and stay six feet away from others.
    True, in part. New guidelines relax mask usage for those who are fully vaccinated around low-risk others who are not. But they should continue to wear a mask in crowds.
  6. The vaccines were released so quickly they are unsafe.
    False. The CDC requires clinical trials for all vaccines before they can be authorized for use and the potential benefits of a vaccine must outweigh the potential risks before the CDC gives approval.
  7. The vaccines will impact my ability to have children in the future.
    False. There is no proof that antibodies formed after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems for a pregnancy and there is no evidence of any vaccine causing fertility problems.

Photo courtesy American Family Care