Skip to main content

Military Health System

Myths & facts about the vax - debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths

Image of Myths and facts about the vax. The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work (Photo by: U.S. Air Force).

Recommended Content:

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

The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear...approved COVID-19 vaccines work.

Here is a breakdown of the most common myths surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, and the facts behind each myth:

 

Myth: COMIRNATY is not the same as the PFIZER-BIONTECH COVID-19 vaccine.

Truth: It is common for vaccine names to change after receiving full Food and Drug Administration approval for branding purposes. COMIRNATY and Pfizer-BioNTech are biologically and chemically the same vaccine. The FDA approved Pfizer-BioNTech for licensing and branding as COMIRNATY August 23 for people 16 years and older. Critically, the Emergency Use Authorization for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine continues and covers the 12-15 year old population.

In accordance with FDA guidance, COMIRNATY has the same formulation and can be used interchangeably with the FDA-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Providers can use doses distributed under the EUA, to administer the vaccination series as if the doses were the licensed vaccine.

Myth: There were no people of color involved or represented in the research or development of the vaccine.

Truth: COVID-19 has taken a heavy and disproportionate toll on people of color, particularly Black adults. Historically, people of color have been underrepresented in clinical trials. Therefore, ensuring racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials for development of COVID-19 vaccines has been particularly important. Diversity within clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine also ensures safety and effectiveness across populations. Findings show that Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine safety and efficacy were similar for people of color and white participants.

The FDA offered nonbinding recommendations that strongly encouraged the enrollment of populations most affected by COVID-19, specifically racial and ethnic minorities. Both Pfizer and Moderna worked to ensure that people of color were included in their trials, with Moderna even slowing down enrollment to enroll more racial and ethnic minorities. There have also been efforts on the community side. Historically Black colleges and universities participated in COVID-19 vaccine trials and encouraged participation among their communities. The purposeful encouragement to increase racial and ethnic groups in these trials have achieved greater diversity than many previous trials for other drugs.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine can cause problems with breast tissue and lead to breast cancer.

Truth: There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause problems with breast tissue or would lead to breast cancer. The mRNA vaccines are processed by your body near the injection site and activate immune system cells that then travel through the lymph system to nearby lymph nodes. In this manner, an individual may experience swelling under the arm where the vaccine was administered due to swelling of the lymph node. The vaccines are not affecting hormone levels, nor are they traveling throughout the body or affecting other body organs, such as breast tissue. Swollen lymph nodes can show up in a mammogram even if women can't feel them. Hence, the Society of Breast Imaging recommends women delay any routine mammography scheduled within four weeks after their most recent COVID-19 vaccination.

Military health personnel filling a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine
Air Force Master Sgt. Luca Farkas, 911th Aeromedical Staging Squadron aeromedical technician, fills a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania in Jan. 2021 (Photo by: Joshua Seybert, 911th Airlift Wing). 

Myth: If I take COMIRNATY while breastfeeding, my baby will be infected with COVID-19.

Truth: COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause infection in anyone. Vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding. Additionally, breastfeeding people who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breast milk, which could help protect their babies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommend that lactating women receive the vaccine and that breastfeeding should not be stopped around the period of vaccination.

Myth: COVID-19 causes infertility.

Truth: There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems in women or men. The mRNA vaccines are processed by your body near the injection site and activate immune system cells that then travel through the lymph system to nearby lymph nodes. In this manner, they are not affecting hormone levels, nor are they traveling throughout the body or affecting other body organs.

Myth: The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System proves that COVID-19 vaccination causes too many side effects and deaths.

Truth: VAERS data alone cannot determine if an adverse event was caused by a COVID-19 vaccination. Anyone can report individual events to VAERS, even if it is not clear whether a vaccine caused the problem. These events are studied by vaccine safety experts who track for trends, then validate significant adverse concerns. Recently, the number of deaths reported in VAERS has been misinterpreted and misreported as if this number means deaths were proven to be caused by COVID-19 vaccination.

Myth: COMIRNATY vaccine contains fetal cells.

Truth: None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal cells. Specifically, COMIRNATY and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines did not use a fetal cell line to manufacture their vaccine. However, a fetal cell line was used in early research efficacy of these vaccines.

The use of these fetal cell lines in research and/or production of vaccines and medication is not new. Some over-the-counter medications for which a historic fetal cell line was utilized in research and/or production and manufacturing include: Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Aspirin, Tums, Senokot, Motrin, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Benadryl, Sudafed, Preparation H, Claritin, and others.

Military personnel receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
Air Force Master Sgt. Tiffany Sneeze, from the 165th Airlift Wing, administers the COVID-19 vaccination to an Airman in June 2021 on Dobbins Air Force Base, Georgia (Photo by: Army Capt. Amanda Russell, Georgia National Guard).

Myth: Researchers rushed the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, so its effectiveness and safety cannot be trusted.

Truth: The COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. have gone through the typical FDA approval process - no steps were skipped - but some steps were conducted on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster.

First, the COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were created with a method that has been in development for years, so the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic. Second, vaccine projects received large resources. Governments invested in research and/or paid for vaccines in advance, which enabled a faster approach. Third, some types of COVID-19 vaccines were created using messenger RNA (mRNA), which allows a faster approach than the traditional way that vaccines are made. Fourth, the capabilities of social media reaching numerous people enabled companies to find and engage study volunteers at a faster than typical pace. Finally, COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, therefore it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated.

Myth: If I get the COVID-19 vaccine, it will make me sick with COVID-19.

Truth: You cannot get COVID-19 disease from the COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. If you do not have side effects, that does not mean your body's immune system is not responding.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccines shed or release their components and are harmful.

Truth: Vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened live version of the virus. None of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus.

Myth: COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA.

Truth: COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with DNA in any way. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA resides.

Myth: Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will make me magnetic.

Truth: All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals and will not make anyone magnetic. None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain eggs, gelatin, latex, or preservatives.

Myth: The COVID-19 vaccine contains microchips.

Truth: COVID-19 vaccines do not contain manufactured electronic or microchips. Vaccines are developed to fight against disease and are not administered to track your movement. Vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to produce antibodies. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.

 

Airmen, Guardians and family members who still have questions and concerns are encouraged to reach out to their primary care provider. Additional information, including the DOD mandate, can be found here.

You also may be interested in...

Get Protected With New COVID-19 Booster and Flu Vaccine

Article Around MHS
10/24/2022
Military medical personnel administering vaccine

There are two vaccines you should consider getting this Fall, and now you can get them both at the same time.

Recommended Content:

Immunizations | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Collaborating In the ER: Reservists Assist, Learn in Community Hospitals

Article Around MHS
10/20/2022
Military medical personnel in medical training session

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic–when there were no vaccines, a shortage of health care workers, and hospitals were beyond capacity– the U.S. health care system needed help. Here's one of many ways the Department of Defense answered the call.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Ramstein Now Offers Novavax Vaccine

Article Around MHS
9/8/2022
Military medical gives Soldier a COVID-19 vaccine

The 86th Medical Group is now offering the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, which has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to members 18 years and older in the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare Division | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Immunizations | Coronavirus

Latasha Smith: Warrior against COVID-19

Article Around MHS
2/18/2022
Military personnel looking at a patient's cardiac rhythm

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Latasha Smith, an Airman assigned to the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was celebrated as Airlifter of the Week, Jan. 27, 2022, after leading the assault against COVID-19 for over a year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

COVID-19 therapeutics support DOD pandemic response

Article Around MHS
2/11/2022
Military personnel getting COVID-29 doses ready

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency is helping to protect the operational force by distributing several new therapeutic options that help to lessen the symptoms of mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 and keep Soldiers, their families and beneficiaries out of the hospital.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines continues to study long-term effects of COVID-19 on Marines

Article Around MHS
2/10/2022
Medical military personnel talking to a patient

A team composed of U.S. Navy medical personnel and civilian technicians based out of the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, assembled during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 to study the short and long-term effects that the virus has on Marines. 

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Getting up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine

Article Around MHS
2/8/2022
Military personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Guard Coast is that we have vaccines to help prevent serious illness if you contract COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Oregon National Guard surging to support hospitals again

Article Around MHS
1/27/2022
Oregon Army National Guard touring a hospital

Hundreds of Oregon National Guard members are increasing support of hospitals throughout the state in their second hospital relief mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response | Readiness Capabilities

Public Health nurses offer insights on living with COVID-19 now, looking into future

Article Around MHS
1/25/2022
The Challenges of Living with COVID

One of the more challenging jobs for any public health professional is dealing with unpredictability inherent in outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Navy Hospital Corpsman steps into the breach in the war on COVID-19

Article Around MHS
1/18/2022
Hospitalman Hector Conde standing in front of a immunization office's refrigeration

First responders and those fighting on the medical battleground have earned well-deserved recognition for their efforts.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

This is my Why

Article Around MHS
12/30/2021
Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock poses for a photo after receiving his COVID-19 vaccination

Air Force Senior Airman Marcus Bullock stated his reason for getting the vaccine was to help his mother and son be able to have a play date again.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

So others may breathe - Navy Medicine Respiratory Therapist cares for COVID casualties

Article Around MHS
12/13/2021
Military Health personnel posing for a picture

Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Tessa Hazard, a respiratory therapist, recently deployed to Alabama as a member of a COVID-19 response team.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

Army Public Health Center provides update on Long COVID risks

Article Around MHS
12/1/2021
COVID19 Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Post-COVID conditions are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus & the MHS Response

JTF Coyote begins pediatric COVID-19 clinics as adult booster vaccination numbers increase

Article Around MHS
11/23/2021
Military health personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The Vermont National Guard now supports the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic with vaccinations for youth in the 5 to 11 age group and booster clinics for the general adult population.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response

USECAF receives insight into COVID19 vaccinations at Reserve wing

Article Around MHS
10/8/2021
Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visits with 433rd Airlift Wing members at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Oct. 2, 2021.

Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones visited the 433rd Airlift Wing here to meet with Reserve Citizen Airmen leaders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Oct. 2, 2021.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus & the MHS Response
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: September 29, 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