Skip to main content

Military Health System

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 & the MHS Response | 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...

DHA Director visits MCAGCC to hear from the ‘Boots on the Ground’

Article
5/19/2021
Military personnel wearing face masks walking

DHA Director visits Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.

Recommended Content:

Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Military Health System Transformation | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Military medicine heroes recognized for COVID-19 pandemic response

Article
5/17/2021
Photo of the virtual "Heroes of Military Medicine" award ceremony

COVID-19 pandemic will affect military medicine for years to come, DHA Director Place tells HJF awards ceremony.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Palliative care provides comfort to COVID-19 patients, families

Article
5/17/2021
Military health personnel taking care of a patient

Medical Center team develops palliative care toolkit for COVID-19 patients

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Teamwork, adaptability, service – MTFs shine during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
5/14/2021
People at screening area

MHS readiness was put to the test at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in early 2020.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | May | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

DHA leadership recognizes, advances 60th MDG mission

Article
5/14/2021
Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place visits Travis Air Force Base

DHA leadership visit 60th Medical Group at Travis AFB.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS

Join Us!! Sixth Live COVID-19 Town Hall

Article
5/12/2021
Image describing today's Town Hall with Dr. Paul Scott and COL Clinton K. Murray, MD.  They are with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and will discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Advancement and Trials.

Join us for today's Town Hall with Dr. Paul Scott and COL Clinton K. Murray, MD. They are with the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and will discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Advancement and Trials.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Ask the Doc: COVID Courageous

Article
5/10/2021
Spc. Andrew Buchtan, 1-4 Infantry Regiment medic, vaccinates Command Sgt. Maj. Deondre Long, Battalion Command Sergeant Major of 1-4 Infantry Regiment. Long said “I got the vaccination shot today because I did not want my leadership style to change. I am an engaged leader. The shot will enable me to develop a better relationship with my soldiers. It will help better interact with them without a standoffish leadership.” (US Army photo by Sgt. Julian Padua).

Dear Doc: I was afraid about getting my COVID vaccine at first and even entertained the thought of not getting it at all, but now that most of my friends and coworkers have gotten their first dose and some have even gotten their second, I think I'm ready. It seems pretty safe. That being said, now I need to know what I'm supposed to do to get it done. My wife wants to get hers as well but isn't sure how to go about doing it as a dependent. Is there a difference? Are there different ways of getting an appointment? What do we have to do? Any help would be much appreciated. — COVID Courageous

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Ask The Doc

Navy nurse steps into Jacksonville community for COVID-19 vaccinations

Article
5/7/2021
Military health personnel wearing face mask discussing the COVID-19 vaccine program

Navy Cmdr. Glenn “Pete” Bradford is aiding the underserved Jacksonville community in COVID-19 vaccination mission

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Nurse and Tech Week: Air Force airmen are battle-tested and ready

Article
5/6/2021
12 COVID-19 patients aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft

For the past year, Air Force nurses and medical technicians have found themselves on the front lines in the battle against the COVID-19 disease.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Health Care Technology | Nursing in the Military Health System | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

DHA, HA leaders discuss MHS Transformation at AHA panel

Article
5/6/2021
Military personnel talking at a podium

Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place and Dr. Terry Adirim discussed MHS Transformation, MHS GENESIS, and highlighted the DHA’s response to COVID-19 in a virtual roundtable hosted April 12 by the American Hospital Association.

Recommended Content:

Electronic Health Record: MHS GENESIS | Military Health System Transformation | Genesis of MHS GENESIS | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Readiness Capabilities

EACH celebrates National Nurses Week with a reflection on the pandemic

Article
5/6/2021
Military health personnel inputting information into a computer

Evans Army Community Hospital celebrates National Nurses Week 2021.

Recommended Content:

Nursing in the Military Health System | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Janssen COVID-19 vaccine returns to Military Health System

Article
5/4/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask and a face shield administering the COVID-19 vaccine

Doses of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine became available April 29 to those in the Military Health System eligible and authorized to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

U.S. continues sending medical supplies to India for COVID-19 fight

Article
5/3/2021
A picture of a C-5M Super Galaxy

DOD provides medical aid to India in the fight against the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

U.S. Army Medical Team Administers COVID-19 Vaccines in Guam

Article
4/29/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask administering the COVID-19 vaccine

Army medical professionals assist in administering COVID-19 vaccine doses to local Guamanians.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus & the MHS Response | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Readiness Capabilities

Military kids are resilient, but far from immune to pandemic effects

Article
4/28/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask holding up posters for Month of the Military Child

Military children are known for being resilient to constant change, but COVID-19 has affected their mental health, too.

Recommended Content:

Month of the Military Child - Celebrating Military Kids | Children's Health | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Staying Resilient | Coronavirus & the MHS Response
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 16
Refine your search
Last Updated: November 17, 2021
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery