Dr. Adella Campbell, Head of the Caribbean School of Nursing at the University of Technology, Jamaica took time to refute the myths circulating which may prevent persons from being vaccinated against COVID-19. Presenting at a Kiwanis All Island meeting last Saturday, Dr. Campbell demystified many of the prevalent falsehoods concerning the COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. Campbell clarified the myth that the COVID-19 vaccines are not safe because they were rapidly developed. “The COVID-19 vaccine is proven safe and effective… no steps were skipped. They have gone through the same rigorous FDA process as every other vaccine, meeting all safety standards,” Dr. Campbell said. She continued to explain that scientists have been working on the COVID-19 vaccines since the SARS and MERS epidemics (in 2002 and 2012 respectively) which allowed more time for the vaccination process.
COVID-19 vaccine was developed using fetal tissue is another myth which Dr. Campbell clarified. She explained that there is no vaccine including the COVID-19 vaccines which have been developed, tested or contain tissue from aborted human fetuses. “Current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were not created with, and do not require the use of, fetal cell cultures in production process,” Dr. Campbell said.
To clarify the myth that ‘COVID-19 vaccine will alter DNA’, Dr Campbell explains that “the coronavirus virus contains ‘mRNA’ which instructs cells to make the “spike protein” found on the new coronavirus.” She notes that the mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell which is where our DNA is kept and the body gets rid of the mRNA once it is finished using the instructions.
Another myth is that COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility in women. “The fact is, COVID-19 does not train the body to attack syncytin-1, a protein in the placenta, which could lead to infertility in women. There is no amino acid sequence shared between the spike protein and a placental protein,” said Dr. Campbell. She noted that some participants in the clinical studies got pregnant during the studies in the development process of the vaccine.
COVID-19 cannot be contracted from the vaccine. Dr. Campbell explained that, “you cannot get the COVID-19 from the vaccine because it does not contain the live virus.” She continued, “viral tests look for the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19, as such the vaccines cannot affect your test results.” However, Dr. Campbell said that it possible to get infected with COVID-19 before the vaccine is fully developed in your body.
Another myth mentioned is that COVID-19 vaccine includes a tracking device. “The fact is, there is no vaccine microchip. The vaccine will not track people or gather personal information,” Dr. Campbell noted. “Microchips have never been used in vaccines and are not part of the COVID-19 vaccines. It is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine,” she continued.
Immunity and Side Effects
Being diagnosed with COVID-19 should not prevent persons from taking the vaccine. Dr. Campbell stated that even if you have already contracted the virus, you will still need to take the vaccine to be safe. This is because – although natural immunity is best – the duration of natural immunity is unsure and it may not last very long. Dr. Campbell added that COVID-19 vaccines are one of the crucial ways of protecting people from disease and ensuring societies can remain open. “Vaccines build immunity without the damaging effects that COVID-19 can have,” she explained.
Side effects are possible after taking the COVID-19 vaccine, but they will not be experienced by everyone. Having severe side effects such as allergic reactions is extremely rare with the COVID-19 vaccines. “Although extremely rare, people can have severe allergic reactions to the ingredients used in a vaccine,” Dr. Campbell explained. She noted that people with a history of experiencing an anaphylactic reaction to the ingredients of vaccines should not be vaccinated.
During testimonials given by persons who has taken the COVID-19 vaccine in America, Canada, Jamaica and other Caribbean countries, some persons explained that the jab gave them more energy while others said that they felt no side effects and went on with their normal daily routine soon after. However, some noted that they felt some side effects but it didn’t last more than a day and that they are feeling much better and safer.
Wearing masks after receiving the vaccine is still necessary. Dr. Campbell explained that until a sufficient number of persons are immune to the virus, the protocols should still be followed such as wearing masks, washing hands and physical distancing.
Astra-Zeneca is the first COVID-19 vaccine that is now present in Jamaica. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is expected to land in Jamaica in the first week of May 2021.
Reported by Chrisancia Robinson