DNA Changes and Other Myths

News Team's picture
By News Team on January 15, 2021

Thousands of people are now getting vaccinated against COVID-19 every day, and for the first time in nearly a year, we can envision an end to the pandemic that has infected 22.5 million Americans at this writing, and claimed over 375,000 American lives.

Still, many people are understandably cautious, as confusion remains about how the vaccines work and how effective they are. Read on to see how Carilion Clinic’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Team dispels some common myths about the vaccines, so that when it becomes available for you and your loved ones, you feel confident in getting it.

Myth: You only need one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for it to be effective.
Fact: Both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines require two doses for full effectiveness.
Myth: The vaccines were rushed, so we shouldn’t trust them.
Both COVID-19 vaccines went through the full range of testing, review and approval steps that other medications go through before being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The major difference is not in the process, but in two variables: 

  • The speed at which the science was developed
  • The FDA’s prioritization and timeline for public safety reviews

“The COVID-19 vaccine effort is an amazing example of what science can accomplish when many minds work together with lots of resources,” said Nathan Everson, clinical pharmacy specialist for infectious diseases at Carilion Clinic.

Learn more from the FDA here, and see the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) vaccine timeline here.
Myth: You can get COVID-19 from the vaccine.
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccines do not have any live virus that can cause an infection. Symptoms that may be seen after the COVID-19 vaccine—such as fever are a sign that your body is making antibodies in response to the vaccine; those antibodies are necessary to protect you from COVID-19 in the future.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine will alter your DNA.
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccine cannot alter your DNA. The component of the vaccine that helps produce immunity is called mRNA. It is impossible for mRNA alone to alter anything about your genes.
Learn more about how mRNA vaccines work from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Myth: You don’t need to wear a mask or practice social distancing after you get the vaccine.

Fact: While the COVID-19 vaccines currently available have an excellent rate at preventing serious disease, the potential still exists for someone to acquire COVID-19 and spread it without having symptoms. Masks work best at helping you prevent spreading the virus to other people. Masks should continue to be worn until recommendations change from public health authorities.
Myth: One vaccine is better than the other.

Fact: Both the Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccine work almost equally as well as each other. The Pfizer vaccine was found to be 95 percent efficacious in a trial that included nearly 44,000 participants, and the Moderna vaccine was found to be 94.5 percent effective in a trial that included more than 30,000 participants.
More questions are bound to develop as vaccine distribution expands. You can count on the experts at Carilion Clinic to help you understand the answers. Be sure to bookmark CarilionClinic.org/covid-19-vaccine for the latest updates.

gif illustration indicating flu vaccine injection with CTA to share on Instagram