Fact or myth? Public health experts explain science around COVID-19 vaccines

Posted at 6:46 PM, Dec 22, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of people have taken doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the Tampa Bay area. Even as more people get the vaccines, myths are still circulating over safety.

To separate fact from fiction, ABC Action News took questions and concerns to USF Health’s Dr. Michael Teng.

Some people have been concerned the vaccines aren’t safe since the approval process moved quickly. Dr. Teng pointed to more resources and the urgency of the pandemic.

“It’s amazingly fast, but a lot of it is resources. When the federal government is putting $10 billion into it, normally these companies don’t have those resources to set up these clinical trials in that amount of time,” said Teng.

Dr. Teng says none of the trials took shortcuts. When it comes to side effects, Teng says you could see some, like headache and fatigue.

“The second dose probably is going to be a little bit more side effects because your immune system is ramping up,” said Teng. “These side effects really for most people, for the vast majority of people, they pale in comparison to actually getting COVID-19.”

The CDC says these vaccines won’t give you COVID-19, and they won’t cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests. The CDC also says receiving an mRNA vaccine will not alter your DNA.

“It’s an unfortunate thing that people kind of take these ideas and make kind of a hash of them. Because if you understand the basic idea of RNA and DNA, your RNA is something that can’t become into your DNA. The RNA does not even come into contact with your DNA,” said Teng. “There’s no way for you to have any genetic modifications from this vaccine.”

Some people may also think you won’t need the vaccine if you’ve already had COVID-19. Dr. Teng says we do know people can get reinfected.

“We don’t know the extent of how long the immunity will last,” said Teng. “What we don’t also quite know is what level of protection you’re going to need to prevent infection over the long term, so it’s a good idea.”