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Debunking Common COVID-19 Facebook Myths

The popular “Mommy Facebook Groups” are notorious for the spread of both helpful parenting tips and dangerous misinformed Facebook myths. Many common myths seen on these groups include statements such as “the vaccine can cause infertility”, “the vaccine is unsafe because it happened quickly”, and “the vaccine can cause a miscarriage”. Such statements have not been proven with facts. 

Experts say that the most reliable source of information is the CDC. They have been and continue to be monitoring the virus and vaccines, giving consistent updates when information is confirmed. Medical experts were asked to debunk some of these common Facebook myths.

“The vaccine was rushed and too new to be safe.”

As we know now, the technology used to create the mRNA vaccine and the viral vector vaccines have been around for decades or longer, this significantly cuts time on the research surrounding how to make a vaccine effective before needing the specifics according to the type of virus. 

Because of the high need for vaccines and in order to provide relief as quickly as possible, the only part of the process that was sped up was surrounding funding. More money allowed for more time, effort, and resources to dedicate to developing a vaccine specifically for COVID-19. Lab and clinical trials were conducted in the same compliance, rules, standards, and ethical criteria as all the vaccines that came before the COVID-19 vaccines.

“The COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility.”

This rumor started with a misinformed letter about the contents of the vaccine and although it was proven to be incorrect information, this myth continued to spread. 

Elizabeth Beatriz, PhD, stated that in actuality, several women who were involved in the vaccine trials became pregnant after being vaccinated, so there cannot be a risk of infertility caused by the vaccine. Beatriz added that there are actually more risks to remaining unvaccinated for women who are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant because “if they were to get COVID, the risk of serious consequences are higher if you are pregnant.”

“Tons of people have already died from the COVID-19 Vaccine.”

This myth arose because of the data seen on the national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This system allows anyone, under any credentials, to submit a report on an adverse event, including death, occurring after vaccine distribution; however, the VAERS system does not detect any health problems or other instances that could cause adverse reactions post-vaccination. 

The information coming from this can be misleading if there is not a scientific or health background to understand that correlation does not always mean causality. Experts have said that because millions of people are being vaccinated globally, many will die for reasons that are unrelated to their body’s response to the vaccine 

However, what is known with certainty is that almost 600,000 people have died because of COVID-19 in just the US, making the infection much more deadly.

“If you get the vaccine while you’re pregnant, you’ll miscarry”

This myth came within the same timeline as the infertility myth and is inaccurate for the same reasons. Many women during both the trials and public distribution have had healthy full-term pregnancies. 

“Even if you’re not vaccinated, you can be harmed by the vaccine if you are near newly vaccinated people because they shed the virus.”

This myth arose as a fear mongering technique and is completely inaccurate. The vaccine does not give you COVID so there is no possible way for it to be able to be spread to another person after getting vaccinated. The vaccine promotes a healthy immune response.

“If you breastfeed after getting vaccinated, your baby could die.”

There is no research to support this claim. With the current research on vaccines, there is no probable reason to believe that the vaccine could be harmful to the mother or baby. 

“There is some research that shows that women who get vaccinated while breastfeeding can actually protect the breastfeeding children from COVID by sharing the antibodies through their breastmilk.” states Beatriz. 

“The COVID-19 vaccine will change your DNA.”

Though there is confusion on the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine cannot physically enter the nucleus of a cell thereby making it impossible for it to alter DNA in any way. The mRNA cells are also destroyed after being processed by the cell so there is no possible way for circulation of mRNA from the vaccine throughout the body. 

Any speculation from a person who says otherwise is only lacking understanding on how vaccines work.

Overall, vaccine myths play into people’s fears so it is important to keep up to date on vaccine research via the CDC website. Facebook has also launched a section on its site dedicated to debunking vaccine myths and providing facts for its users, including marking posts which show misleading information.

References:

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/infants-can-benefit-if-breastfeeding-mothers-are-given-a-covid-19-vaccine
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/15/facebook-new-section-to-debunk-coronavirus-myths.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html?s_cid=11304:janssen%20vaccine:sem.ga:p:RG:GM:gen:PTN:FY21