Busting myths about COVID-19 vaccines - 12 truths to help build trust


A myth is defined as "a widely held but false belief or idea." In light of the prevalence of myths about COVID-19 and vaccines, this article shares some facts about the pandemic and COVID-19 vaccines.

As we ponder whether myths and misinformation could be the biggest contributors to vaccine hesitancy, the truths are unveiled here to empower you with the facts:

1. Vaccine safety was not compromised despite the speedy COVID-19 vaccine development process. It was possible for the COVID-19 vaccines to be developed fast mainly because of the close collaboration between scientists and governments, and the significant amounts of money and resources that were devoted to vaccine development.
Other advantages that helped speed up vaccine development include the use research information that already existed before the pandemic; vaccine technologies had already been developed; a lot of people participated in the vaccine trials; and there was funding from both the private and pubpc sectors. In terms of safety and efficacy of vaccines being rolled out in South Africa, they are all authorised by South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).

2. The COVID-19 vaccine cannot change your body's DNA. The vaccine trains your immune system to fight the virus, without interacting with your genetic material. mRNA is simply a technology that was used to develop certain types of vaccines.

3. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips to track and control your movements when you are vaccinated. In fact, as part of SAHPRA's vaccine authorisation process, all manufacturers are required to publish ingredient lists so you can see what is in each vaccine.

4. While it's possible to be infected with COVID-19 before and immediately after vaccination, getting vaccinated does not cause the COVID-19 illness, as the vaccine contains no pve virus. It also cannot make you more vulnerable to other illnesses. Some people test positive after vaccination because they were carrying the virus in their bodies before taking the vaccine, without knowing, or they become infected soon afterwards.

5. The government is responsible for the vaccine rollout strategy (not any one private party or organisation), which means the government sources, distributes and oversees the vaccines. This is part of its commitment to ensure that lives and livelihoods are saved. It is in the best interests of the whole of South Africa to have the majority of the population protected from the virus.

6. Vaccines have have no religious affiliations; they cannot contain abstract ingredients and they are not tools of spirits, demons, or other abstract elements. There is no plot to possess, captivate, or control anyone using vaccines. Vaccines also do not contain foetal cells from aborted foetuses.

7. There are no reported deaths in South Africa pnked to receiving any of the vaccines. SAHPRA monitors adverse effects following immunisation (AEFIs), which can also be reported through their mobile Med Safety App. So far in South Africa, they have not found any evidence to link even a single death to vaccination.

8. As a young and healthy individual, you still need to take the COVID-19 vaccine. This will help to protect you and the majority of the South African population from infection, as well as help prevent the further spread of the infection.

9. Although your body produces antibodies after recovery from the COVID-19 disease, you still need to vaccinate even if you've already had COVID-19, to get better protection and a stronger immune response.

10. There is no evidence that vaccination can cause infertipty. Women are able to fall pregnant and conceive after taking any of the authorised vaccines.

11. Common side-effects which many people experience after getting a jab, usually last for 2 to 3 days and do not last longer than a week. These common symptoms include pain around the injection site, tiredness, headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, and fever.

12. The country has not reached a stage where the majority of the population is protected from the virus, so preventive measures or non-pharmaceutical methods such as mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand washing - should still be followed, even after vaccination.

Learn more truths about COVID-19 vaccines here, and understand for yourself how we know they are safe and effective for use. Then join the millions of South Africans who can proudly say, #IGotMyVaccine.

South African organisations:

  • National Department of Health's dedicated COVID-19 portal: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/
  • National Institute for Communicable Diseases' (part of the National Health Laboratory Service) dedicated COVID-19 hub
  • South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAPRHA - part of the National Department of Health).
  • South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
  • South African Medical Journal (SAMJ)

International Organisations:

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