Public health officials and physicians have been combating misconceptions about Covid-19 vaccine safety since mid-2020.
Despite the fact that numerous studies have found no evidence to support the notion that vaccines cause neurological disorders, infertility, and other chronic illnesses, a growing number of individuals are refusing to get the jab.
Khaleej Times reached out to Dr Gunjan Mahajan, a specialist clinical pathologist at Burjeel Hospital, Dubai, to debunk some common myths about the Covid-19 vaccines.
Truth: There is no scientific evidence suggesting vaccination causes problems with fertility and pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. Vaccines work by stimulating an immune response against a particular protein or antigen of a virus or bacteria. A Covid-19 vaccine stimulates antibody response and a cell-mediated immune response against the spike protein of the SARS- CoV-2 virus.
There is no way it will interfere with the functions of reproductive organs, either in men or women. Scientifically, there is also no reason for menstruating women not to take the vaccine, apart from the fact that she may feel a bit tired. If your vaccination appointment coincides with those dates, there is still no problem in going ahead and getting the jab.
Myth 2: If I've gotten Covid-19 previously, I don't need to take the vaccine.
Truth: Recent studies suggest the immune systems of more than 95 per cent of people who recovered from the disease had durable memories of the virus up to eight months after infection. At the same time, there is not enough data to say how long an individual is protected after receiving natural immunity. So, it is advised to get the vaccine.
If a patient has an active infection, he/she must wait until the isolation period is completed to be vaccinated. If the infection was moderate or severe and required hospitalisation, the timeframe for vaccination after infection will depend on the discretion of the medical team that treated the patient. However, all mild cases or cases without symptoms can take the vaccine after completion of the isolation period.
Myth 3: Covid-19 vaccines can cause death.
Truth: Some say that people shouldn’t be taking vaccines against Covid-19, as the mortality rate of people affected by the infection is between one to two per cent. The proponents of this argument suggest that there is no need to vaccinate oneself against a virus with a high survival rate. However, these people need to understand that one per cent mortality rate is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. Also, mortality due to Covid-19 is dependent on various other factors, such as age, underlying health condition and so on.
Also, there are a few who believe that getting the vaccine would cause them to get infected. They cite that people who take the vaccine develop similar symptoms of being infected by the virus. However, the reality is that when a person takes a vaccine against a particular infection or virus, it is natural for the body to respond to it as part of creating an immune response. This is very normal and lasts only for a day or two. These reactions do not lead to life-threatening complications.
People who are against vaccines should also realise that they are not just to keep you safe from infection, but also to prevent the spread of the infection to others in society. The vaccine also protects one from developing life-threatening complications due to Covid-19 and helps one avoid hospitalisation. Though vaccines do not ensure 100 per cent safety, its benefits definitely outweigh the risks.
Myth 4: Researchers rushed the vaccine research and development, so we cannot trust its safety and efficacy.
Truth: The vaccine manufacturers dedicated immense resources to developing the vaccine quickly. It is true that the vaccine against Covid-19 was developed in a shorter span of time. But that does not mean that the manufacturers bypassed safety protocols.
All the vaccines approved by health bodies have undergone tough scrutiny and the developers have published the data and the results of their testing too. These test results and data have been verified by a body of experts before approval for their use was granted.
Myth 5: Scientists and researchers are yet to find a cure for cancer; yet, they found a cure to Covid-19 so fast. That means we cannot trust the vaccine.
Truth: All vaccines are subject to adequate testing and go through several stages of pre-clinical and clinical trials before they are approved for use. The UAE has selected these vaccines on a scientific basis and ensured that these vaccines meet all safety requirements.
Myth 6: The mRNA technology used to make the vaccine is brand new.
Truth: Researchers have been studying and working with mRNA vaccines for decades. The advantage of the technology is that vaccines developed through this method can be produced in a laboratory using readily available materials. This contributes to the standardisation and scaling up of vaccine manufacturing at a faster pace than traditional methods.
The mRNA technology of developing a vaccine has earlier been studied for flu, Zika, rabies, and cytomegalovirus (CMV). As soon as the necessary information about the virus that causes Covid-19 was available, scientists began designing the mRNA instructions for cells to build the unique spike protein into an mRNA vaccine.
Future mRNA vaccine technology may allow for one vaccine to provide protection for multiple diseases, thus decreasing the number of shots needed for protection against common vaccine-preventable diseases. Beyond vaccines, cancer research has used mRNA to trigger the immune system to target specific cancer cells.
Myth 7: Vaccines cause neurological disorders in later stages of your life.
Truth: There is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines trigger neurological disorders in people.
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