Dispelling Myths About COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines

Vaccine hesitancy is alive and well in the United States, and many Americans have expressed concern about taking vaccines that were developed so quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are a few myths that are simple to dispel. Both the currently available Pfizer and the Moderna (now under review by the US Food and Drug Administration) COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA based.

  • Myth #1: mRNA vaccines alter a cell’s DNA.

While the mRNA vaccine type is new, it does not alter a cell’s DNA. Rather, mRNA vaccines work by teaching cells how to make a protein that creates an immune response to a stimulus (such as SARS-CoV-2). DNA is held in the nucleus of the cell, which is never entered by the mRNA. Once the mRNA has created the protein, it is dissolved within the cell.

  • Myth #2: You can get the novel coronavirus from the COVID-19 vaccines.

No live virus is contained within the mRNA vaccines. It is impossible to become infected with COVID-19 through the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

  • Myth #3: If you’ve already recovered from COVID-19, you don’t need to get vaccinated.

While there is no scientific consensus yet, some preliminary evidence shows that the natural immunity gained from COVID-19 infection does not last long. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that all Americans, including those who have been infected with COVID-19 previously, should get immunized as soon as a vaccine is widely available.

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