Myths and Misinformation

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Download The Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines

Myths vs. Facts

This information is based on currently available scientific evidence, reports, emergency use authorization details and expert opinion, and is subject to change. This page will be updated as necessary evidence and information about the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.

MYTH: I can get COVID-19 from taking the vaccine.

FACT: The vaccine does not cause COVID-19. None of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently being distributed or in development contain the live COVID-19 virus. Rather, the vaccine prepares your immune system to recognize (and fight) the virus.

However, it is important to note that since it typically takes 2 weeks for the body to build immunity against COVID-19 after you get the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, and 2 weeks after the one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, it is still possible for you to become infected or sick until that time passes.

MYTH: After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, I will test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test.

No. Neither the recently authorized and recommended vaccines nor the other COVID-19 vaccines currently in clinical trials in the United States can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.​

If your body develops an immune response—the goal of vaccination—there is a possibility you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus. Experts are currently looking at how COVID-19 vaccination may affect antibody testing results. 

MYTH: We don’t know what’s in the vaccine.

FACT: Pfizer and Moderna (manufacturers of the two vaccines authorized for emergency use as of January 1, 2021) published a list of all ingredients, which are currently posted on the FDA website. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines utilize a technology called messenger RNA (mRNA) which teaches your body how to respond to COVID-19, as well as lipids (fats) that help transport the vaccine into your body.

MYTH: The vaccine is not safe because it was developed too fast.

FACT: The COVID-19 vaccine technology had been in development for over a decade. This is because the COVID-19 virus is not altogether new to us: It is caused by a coronavirus. Prior to the current COVID-19 outbreak, scientists had been researching other coronavirus vaccines, for diseases such as SARS and MERS. When the pandemic hit, scientists were able to build on this research (with more financial resources than ever before) to develop the COVID vaccines.

MYTH: I could get sick because of vaccine side effects.

FACT: You may have some side effects from the COVID-19 vaccination, which are normal signs that your body is building protection from the. Common side effects are pain and swelling on the arm where you received the shot, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache (similar to flu vaccine side effects), which go away in a few days at most.

MYTH: As an older adult or a person with an underlying health condition, I will have more vaccine side effects.

FACT: Vaccine side effects are not dramatically different in people of different ages; in fact, older adults are likely to have fewer side effects. This is because their immune systems are weaker so are likely to have a less severe reaction to the vaccine’s spike protein being identified in their body.

There is no data to indicate that anyone with underlying or chronic health conditions (e.g. heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity) would have a different response to the vaccine. In fact, the vaccine is particularly important for these individuals because people with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19.

MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine could get into my DNA.

FACT: mRNA, the technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, is not able to alter, interrupt, or impact your genetic makeup (DNA). Rather, it instructs our body on how to fight the virus. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. This means the mRNA does not affect or interact with our DNA in any way. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to disease.

MYTH: I have already had COVID so I don’t need to take the vaccine.

FACT: Taking the vaccine even if you have had COVID will help make sure you are protected. We don’t know how long immunity to COVID will last yet, and it is possible to contract COVID more than once.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts are still learning more about how long vaccines protect against COVID-19 in real-world conditions. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

MYTH: There will be hidden costs associated with the vaccine.

FACT: All vaccines provided through the US government will be free of charge to all individuals, including those without insurance. Health care providers will be allowed to charge a fee for giving the shots. For those who have insurance, your information will be collected so the vaccine provider can bill for administrative costs.

MYTH: A COVID-19 vaccination will not protect me from getting sick with COVID-19.

FACT: COVID-19 vaccination works by teaching your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that caused COVID-19, and this protects you from getting sick with COVID-19.

Being protected from getting sick is important because even though many people with COVID-19 have only a mild illness, others may get a severe illness, have long-term health effects, or even die. There is now way to know how COVID-19 will affect you, even if you don't have an increased risk of developing severe complications. Learn more about how COVID-19 vaccines work.

MYTH: It's not safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day.

FACT: Based on current knowledge, experts believe that COVID-19 vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to a person trying to become pregnant in the short or long term. Scientists study ever vaccine carefully for side effects immediately and for years afterward. The COVID-19 vaccines are being studied carefully now and will continue to be studied for many years, similar to other vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccine, like other vaccines, works by training our bodies to develop antibodies to fight against the virus that causes COVID-19, to prevent future illness. There is currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of ANY vaccine. People who are trying to become pregnany now or who plan to try in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. 

MYTH: Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine causes you to be magnetic.

FACT: Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.

MYTH: It will affect my menstrual cycle if I am near someone who received the vaccine.

Fact: Your menstrual cycle cannot be affected by being near someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine. Many things can affect menstrual cycles, including stress, changes in your schedule, problems with sleep, and changes in diet or exercise. Infections may also affect menstrual cycles.

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Finding Credible Vaccine Information

Before considering vaccine information on the Internet, make sure the information comes from a credible, trusted source of information and is updated regularly. As you surf for vaccine information, consider guidance from these sources:

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Page last updated: July 9, 2021