Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Debunking Anti-Vaccine Myths with Scientific Facts

Image of A soldier gets a shot in the arm. A Norwegian soldier administers a COVID-19 vaccine to U.S. soldier at Ayn Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, on June 4, 2021. Norwegian Soldiers volunteered to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to U.S. soldiers, coalition forces, and civilian contractors. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Clara Soria-Hernandez)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Even after months of vaccinations, and nearly one million service members have received a vaccine, myths and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines still abound.

However, the science behind the vaccines, and the effectiveness of those vaccines remain.

Some of the reasons why military personnel say they are not getting vaccinated include:

  • Skepticism about the effects of the COVID-19 disease on young, healthy service members
  • Questions about the vaccine’s possible long-term side effects that could emerge years later
  • Changing information about the COVID-19 vaccines and the virus itself
  • Concerns about a baby’s health in a pregnant service member
  • Fears among male service members about their future fertility

Many of these concerns stem from false, inaccurate, or misleading information gathered from social media and misinformation super-spreaders.

Fact: The belief that young people cannot become seriously ill from catching the coronavirus is false. And newer, anecdotal reports suggest the virus’s Delta variant is causing more serious illness in young people compared to versions of the virus that were spreading last year.

The Truth About Side Effects

Fact: Even the young and healthy can still become infected and be a vector for spreading the virus, so everyone should get vaccinated to protect others, if not just themselves.

Fact: While there have been some rare but serious side effects detected after vaccinations – including an inflammation of the heart muscle and a neurological condition called Guillen-Barre syndrome, most of these cases recover. The Food and Drug Administration has months of data on the vaccines. That is from the more than 165 million people who are fully vaccinated in the U.S.

Fact: The messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are based on a safe vaccine platform for which data go back to the 1990’s, and the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine also is based on tried-and-true technology.

Fact: FDA is moving forward on full approval for COVID-19 vaccines, which may allay fears about long-term side effects. Pfizer submitted the vaccine for full approval July 16 for those ages 16 and older, according to the FDA. Moderna said it could apply for full approval before year-end.

On July 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine’s safety and effectiveness benefits still outweigh its rare risks for Guillen-Barre syndrome, and other side effects.

All three vaccines have rare adverse events including myocarditis/pericarditis, an inflammation of the heart. However, the ACIP decided that currently, the benefits still significantly outweigh the risks for COVID-19.

A soldier is tested for COVID-19
An Army soldier with Task Force Warrior receives a PCR test for COVID-19 in Bataraja, Indonesia, on July 28, 2021. Garuda Shield is a joint-exercise with the purpose of enhancing and enriching the jungle warfare ability of both the U.S. Army and Indonesian Army while mitigating COVID-19 risk through vaccination, testing, and quarantine procedures. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Rachel Christensen)

Fertility Questions

“The questions have changed over time, but the infertility issues remain” on the minds of pregnant service members at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said Dr. Y. Sammy Choi, chief of the Department of Research at Womack Army Medical Center.

The science, however, backs the fact that there are no signs of harm to the fetus.

Fact: Of the more than 69,000 pregnant women vaccinated against COVID-19, there are no signs of harm to the fetus. In fact, babies born to vaccinated women are born with immune responses against the virus.

An April 22 study in the “New England Journal of Medicine” tracked 35,691 pregnant women. Compared to a control group of pregnant women pre-COVID, “women who had received the vaccine did not experience an increased rate of miscarriages or adverse neonatal outcomes,” the article states.

Fact: The vaccines have no known impact on fertility in men. The dangers of losing fertility are greater from actually getting COVID-19, especially among men who have circulatory issues that could result in erectile dysfunction (ED).

A study in the journal “Andrology” found that “there is preliminary evidence in a real-life population of ED dysfunction as a risk factor of developing COVID-19 and possibly occurring as a consequence of COVID-19.” The study was observational and does not prove causality, but it will lead to more research to delineate the effects of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and male reproductive health, Choi said.

A research letter published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” June 21 found that “sperm counts were not lowered in men receiving either of the mRNA vaccines.”

Fact: U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said in his July 15 report on handling health misinformation: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, health misinformation has sowed confusion, reduced trust in public health measures, and hindered efforts to get Americans vaccinated.”

There are other reasons service members are citing for not getting vaccinated, Choi said. From his discussions with soldiers at Fort Bragg, these include:

  • Service members have a choice to refuse because the vaccine is not mandated as it is still under Emergency Use Authorization. That could change if and when the vaccines are fully approved.
  • Some people believe that the vaccine does not really work, otherwise the president would have mandated it. It remains unclear what the president is thinking about full vaccination mandates just yet.
  • Some believe that COVID-19 will have little effect on service members personally. This is generally true as the chance of severe disease is small, Choi said.
  • Many unvaccinated service members believe that if they got sick, there would be little societal effect. This is false because an infection can lead to mutations, as shown by the Delta variant, Choi said.
  • The vaccinated are having breakthrough cases. This is true but only in very small numbers.
  • The vaccine is not working since officials are discussing boosters. This is false. Boosters are to enhance efficacy, Choi explained, adding: “If the vaccine was not really working, we would not give boosters, but a completely different vaccine.”
  • Some experts, including PhD scientists and medical doctors, have told the public not to get the vaccine. Unfortunately, this is true, he noted
  • If things are as bad as the CDC says, why have some states reduced mask mandates instead of increasing them (a recent argument)? Unfortunately, this is also true and depends on the viewpoints of individual state leaders rather than medical experts
  • Seemingly smart elected officials, including some doctors, are providing mixed messages. This is true and happens all too often, Choi pointed out.

To counter such false reasoning, federal and state governments and the military continue to tailor their pro-vaccination messages very carefully. Already, in recent weeks there has been an uptick in Americans getting vaccinated as the number of those infected with the Delta variant increases exponentially.

Choi said “one of the appeals I am using now is that of perfection. Some are demanding the trifecta for the vaccine: 100% without serious side effects, 100% without breakthrough cases, and 100% without the need for a booster.” Choi said: “If we required that same perfection in all that we did…none of us would ever take a pill or any of the vaccines that most of us have taken or given to our children.”

You also may be interested in...

Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy Expands Access to MHS Care

Article
8/10/2022
Infographic featuring Lt Col Legault

MHS has Telemedicine Privilege by Proxy: A fast, efficient process that enables providers to file one application and get permission to virtually treat patients anywhere in the MHS.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Telehealth Program

Learn the Most Recent Age Requirements for COVID-19 Vaccines and Boosters

Article
8/10/2022
A man fist bumps a child.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to get your vaccines and booster shots.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Future of Nursing: Telehealth, More Innovation and Maybe Some Robots

Article
5/13/2022
Second Lt. Nina Hoskins, 81st Surgical Operations Squadron operating room nurse, briefs Col. Debra Lovette, 81st Training Wing commander, and other base leadership on robotics surgery capabilities inside the robotics surgery clinic at the Keesler Medical Center June 16, 2017. (Photo: Kemberly Groue, U.S. Air Force)

The future of nursing is here due in part to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

How One Military Nurse Persevered Through the COVID-19 Response

Article
5/5/2022
Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling, a medical-surgical nurse at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Family Health Clinic, Texas, was deployed to support the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan in 2021. They administered vaccinations to U.S. citizens, service members, and foreign military members as well as supported the preparation to withdraw from the country. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force Capt. Courtney Ebeling)

Nurses across the Military Health System have played a vital role in providing routine patient care and meeting the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Nursing in the Military Health System

‘I Love the Intensity’ – One Nurse Recalls Three COVID-19 Deployments

Article
5/5/2022
In 2020, Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra, an ICU nurse at the 633rd Medical Group, on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, was deployed to a North Dakota hospital to support a FEMA COVID-19 mission. In the photo, she trains on equipment used for critical patients in a North Dakota ICU. (Photo: Courtesy of Air Force 1st Lt. Tiffany Parra)

Nurses are unique, they follow a calling to care for others. Military nurses do that as well as serve their nation. For Nurses Week, the MHS highlights some of their own.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus

Pandemic Spotlights the Vital Role of Military Lab Workers

Article
5/2/2022
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ashley Solomon, 18th Medical Support Squadron NCO in charge of microbiology, unloads blood samples from a centrifuge at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 31, 2019. (Photo: Tech. Sgt. Matthew B. Fredericks, U.S. Air Force)

MHS clinical labs produce results.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

Helping Your Child to Cope with Grief and Losses Related to COVID-19

Article
4/28/2022
Shirley Lanham Elementary School students perform Taiko drumming during a Month of the Military Child celebration aboard the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, April 6, 2022. (Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ange-Olivier Clement, Naval Air Facility Atsugi)

Many military children have lost loved ones to COVID-19. How parents can help with the grief.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

How to Help Military Children Reconnect After Two Years of the Pandemic

Article
4/25/2022
Airman 1st Class Rocio Romo, Space Launch Delta 30 public affairs specialist, and her son pose for a photo at Cocheo Park on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, March 25, 2022. During the month of April, we celebrate Month of the Military Child to highlight the sacrifices military children make on the home front while their parents serve the United States. (Photo: Airman Kadielle Shaw, Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs)

How parents can help children stressed by more than two years of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Psychological Fitness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Effectiveness Remained High During Omicron Surge

Article
4/18/2022
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Mary Ashcraft, assigned to the combat ship USS Tulsa, administers a COVID-19 vaccine booster to Aviation Machinist Mate 1st Class Anthony Johnson Jan. 10, 2022, at Apra Harbor, Guam. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer, Command Destroyer Squadron 7)

Two new studies of active-duty service members show COVID-19 booster vaccines are effective, but uptake rates in the military community lagged behind the civilian population.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

8 Tips to Help Kids Adjust to Change during the New Pandemic Phase

Article
4/15/2022
A parent comforts his child while she receives a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kadena Air Base, Japan, Jan. 28, 2022. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte, 18th Wing Public Affairs)

Parents should prepare their kids for the new normal of the ongoing pandemic, recognizing that the status of the disease can change quickly as new variants of COVID-19 emerge.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Children's Health

Military Medical Officials Back FY 23 Budget Before Senate Appropriations Committee

Article
4/6/2022
Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing take precautionary measures by cleaning and disinfecting their hands during field day on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 20, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while continuing to perform mission-essential tasks. (Photo: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jaime Reyes)

Military Medical officials, including Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald J. Place, Defense Health Agency director, back FY 23 Budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee, March 29, 2022.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

How COVID-19 Made the Military Medical Community Stronger

Article
3/21/2022
Image of a service member being treated

Lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic has made the military medical community stronger and will help when confronting the next crisis, whether that’s another pandemic, a new conflict or natural disaster

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Responses Underscore Importance of Patient Safety

Article
3/14/2022
Every day, patient safety is one of the top priorities for the Defense Health Agency. Patient safety means providing ready, reliable care to service members, veterans, and dependents no matter the circumstances. (Photo: Defense Health Agency)

Patient safety is a topmost concern of MHS, and Patient Safety Awareness Week 2022 focuses on Ready, Reliable Care.

Recommended Content:

Patient Safety | Patient Safety Awareness Week | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Patient Safety Awareness Week

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Article
2/25/2022
Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 continues to spread, now as the Omicron variant. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect you and your family from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized, or dying. You should also make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines. Testing is another important step you can take to protect yourself and others.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Defense Department Announces Distribution of COVID-19 Tests for Military Beneficiaries

Article
2/25/2022
A Soldier assigned to the Connecticut National Guard helps load a shipment of at-home COVID-19 testing kits into a truck at a regional distribution point in North Haven, Connecticut, Jan. 3, 2022. These kits were picked up by representatives from local towns and municipalities to be handed out to their communities.

The Department of Defense will offer at-home COVID-19 tests for military beneficiaries at military hospitals or clinics, on a supply available basis, in the coming weeks.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 17
Refine your search
Last Updated: November 17, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.