Is It True?
COVID-19 Vaccine Fact Checking
It is easy to come across incorrect information about the safety of the coronavirus vaccine. Some of the misinformation circulating online and by word of mouth is unsettling. It can be hard to know what to believe, so we created this page to help understand the facts.
Select a tab below to navigate through sections:
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will NOT alter your genes or DNA.
Misinformation: There is a fear that the vaccine could alter people’s DNA and could change their personality or transform a family’s next generation.
Reality: Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines use Messenger RNA (or mRNA), a substance our bodies naturally produce. mRNA teaches our bodies to protect us by making antibodies and other infection-fighting cells.
The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell - where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect our DNA in any way. Once the mRNA has finished teaching our cells, enzymes break down the mRNA so it’s no longer in our bodies.
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will NOT infect you with the coronavirus.
Misinformation: There has been misinformation that COVID-19 vaccines could give you COVID-19.
Reality: There is no coronavirus in any of the COVID-19 vaccines. You can't get coronavirus from getting vaccinated.
The vaccines teach our bodies’ cells to make a protein that looks exactly like the one found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. To deliver the instructions, the vaccines use either messenger RNA (mRNA) or a harmless common cold virus that is modified so that it can’t cause illness. Our bodies learn to identify that protein so that they can mount an immune response if a COVID-19 virus enters the body.
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines can cause mild flu-like symptoms, but severe reactions are extremely rare.
Misinformation: There has been misinformation that the vaccine often causes violent allergic reactions, known as anaphylaxis, making many people seriously ill.
Reality: It’s possible to experience side effects like a headache, sore arm, fatigue or fever in the day or two after you get the shot. But these side effects do not last long and are signs that the vaccine is working.
Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) are very rare, but can happen, especially in people that already have severe allergic conditions. All reactions are treatable.
Safeguards are in place, just in case. After you are vaccinated, you will be asked to wait at the clinic for .15 minutes. Medical staff will make sure you don’t have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine.
If you have an allergic reaction to the first vaccine dose, you should not get the second. For more technical information about the vaccine, see this CDC guidance.
FACT: The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain tracking chips, fetal tissue, pork products, harmful metals or potentially toxic ingredients.
Misinformation: The internet is full of false claims about what’s in the vaccine.
Reality: The key ingredient in both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is a genetic material called mRNA. The vaccines also contain lipids, salts, acetic acid (main ingredient in vinegar), and sugar. In the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, the key ingredient is a common cold virus, but modified so it can’t cause illness. The J&J vaccine also contains stabilizers (salts, alcohols, polysorbate 80, hydrochloric acid) and amino acids.
These vaccines have fewer ingredients than the average bag of potato chips!
FACT: By ending the pandemic sooner, the COVID-19 vaccines will help everyone. Vaccination will reduce hospitalization and death of people in high-risk groups, including in communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
Misinformation: Given the history and ongoing systemic racism in healthcare and public health, people have valid concerns about equity related to vaccine development and vaccination, including about who was or wasn’t included in the vaccine trials. Various questions have surfaced about whether marginalized communities were used as guinea pigs, or conversely that Black, Latino, and Indigenous people were entirely left out of vaccine trials.
Reality: Before COVID-19 vaccines were developed, activists and advocates raised concerns about the historical and ongoing harm inflicted by medical and government institutions on Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Thanks to their efforts, the tens of thousands of people that took part in the COVID-19 vaccine trials reflect the diversity of our population. The vaccines have been effective and safe across racial and ethnic groups.
In addition, people of color played leadership roles in the development of COVID vaccines. For example, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a Black scientist, is the National Institute of Health's lead for coronavirus vaccine research.
Black, Native American, Latino, and Pacific Islander communities have experienced significantly higher rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 in King County. These communities will be among those who benefit most from the protection that vaccination offers.
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