8 Biggest Covid19 Vaccine Myths Debunked
By Alicia Tan Siew Yik & Kousalya Vijendran (BAC Apprentices)
Even as many Malaysians rejoice at the apparent end of the pandemic, there is a growing concern about death and hospitalisation rates due to the high transmissible Delta variant. With high vaccination rates, you might assume a drop in Covid19 deaths, hospitalisations, and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions.
That’s not the case.
A closer look at Covid19 death records reveals that unvaccinated people continue to make up the majority of recent Covid19 deaths in the Klang Valley. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), almost 80% of those hospitalised are unvaccinated. Dr. Zulkarnain Mohd Rawi, Director of Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah (HTAR) in Klang, said that about 80% of Covid19 deaths are amongst the unvaccinated, many of whom also had comorbidities.
Dr. Ahmad Tajuddin Mohamad Nor, the Head of Emergency and Trauma Department of HTAR suspects that the rise in Covid19 hospitalisations among unvaccinated younger people could be linked to vaccination hesitancy despite walk-ins for vaccinations being made available since August.
For as long as vaccines have existed, they have been fraught with suspicion and hostility. Approximately 6% of Malaysians have not registered for vaccination. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), states that unvaccinated individuals face nearly 11 times the risk of death than those who are fully inoculated due to the high transmissibility of the virus. Covid19 vaccines remain highly effective in preventing and reducing severe illness and death among Covid19 patients.
As they cite a litany of myths to explain their hesitance to get vaccinated, we seek to dispel some common Covid19 vaccine myths.
- Covid-19 vaccine contains a microchip for tracking.
Fact: Covid19 vaccine contains NO microchip; therefore, no one (not even the government) would be able to track you.
- Covid-19 vaccine was developed in haste, so its efficacy and safety cannot be trusted.
Fact: All Covid19 vaccines, approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Division (NPRA) for use in Malaysia, is both safe and effective. Even though they were developed quickly under emergencies, the vaccine developers did not skip any testing steps. All vaccines have undergone and continue to undergo rigorous tests to ensure that they meet safety requirements.
- Covid-19 vaccine enters your cell and alters your DNA.
Fact: Covid19 vaccines are designed to supply antigens for the body to produce antibodies in combating the virus. The messenger RNA (mRNA) does enter cells but is unable to penetrate the wall of the nucleus, where DNA resides. The mRNA causes the cell to produce protein to stimulate the immune system and disintegrates shortly. The mRNA does not integrate with, nor alter the DNA within the body.
- Covid-19 vaccine is unsafe for those with heart conditions.
Fact: Heart patients are at a higher risk of developing health complications from COVID19 compared to those without history of heart problems. As a result, they have been prioritised for vaccination alongside other patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol. The vaccines have been tried and tested on people with similar medical conditions and they have proven to be beneficial.
- The vaccine poses long-term side effects.
Fact: The vast majority of the post-vaccination side effects are temporary. Different individuals have different reactions to the vaccine. Some people experience muscle pain, fatigue, fever, chills, nausea, or diarrhea that last for a day or two.
- Vaccination is not necessary for those who have recovered from Covid19.
Fact: While evidence suggests that those who have previously had COVID have some level of immunity, it is unknown how long you are protected from getting COVID19 again. It is recommended that everyone gets vaccinated. In addition, precautions should still be taken until herd immunity is achieved.
- Covid19 vaccine is ineffective against the Delta variant because you can still contract Covid19 after being vaccinated.
Fact: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it typically takes a few weeks after vaccination for the body to develop immunity against the virus. This also implies that a person can be infected with the virus just before or after vaccination and still become ill. This is because the vaccine has not had sufficient time to provide protection.
- Covid19 vaccine affects women’s fertility.
Fact: The false claim suggested that because the viral spike protein in vaccines and protein found in placentas called syncitin-1 are similar, receiving the Covid19 vaccine would cause a woman’s body to fight the other spike protein, thus affecting her fertility. However, data from multiple sources show that there is no difference in the fertility rate between vaccinated and unvaccinated women as the two spike proteins are completely different. The Covid19 virus, on the other hand, poses numerous risks to pregnant mothers. Vaccines will be able to provide the best protection for women who are planning to become pregnant or who are already pregnant.
The misinformation and conspiracy theories spreading online threatens to derail Malaysia’s major push to raise vaccination rates above 90%, which could result in fewer Covid19 hospitalisations and deaths. While it is tempting to conclude that people who refuse vaccination for themselves and their children are staunch anti-vaxxers, some forego vaccinations due to medical complications or severe allergic reactions. The good news is that many sceptics are now reconsidering their position.
We strongly encourage all persons who are medically eligible to be vaccinated.