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Dispelling Myths About COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines

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Vaccine hesitancy is alive and well in the United States, and many Americans have expressed concern about taking vaccines that were developed so quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are a few myths that are simple to dispel. Both the currently available Pfizer and the Moderna (now under review by the US Food and Drug Administration) COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA based.

  • Myth #1: mRNA vaccines alter a cell’s DNA.

While the mRNA vaccine type is new, it does not alter a cell’s DNA. Rather, mRNA vaccines work by teaching cells how to make a protein that creates an immune response to a stimulus (such as SARS-CoV-2). DNA is held in the nucleus of the cell, which is never entered by the mRNA. Once the mRNA has created the protein, it is dissolved within the cell.

  • Myth #2: You can get the novel coronavirus from the COVID-19 vaccines.

No live virus is contained within the mRNA vaccines. It is impossible to become infected with COVID-19 through the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

  • Myth #3: If you’ve already recovered from COVID-19, you don’t need to get vaccinated.

While there is no scientific consensus yet, some preliminary evidence shows that the natural immunity gained from COVID-19 infection does not last long. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that all Americans, including those who have been infected with COVID-19 previously, should get immunized as soon as a vaccine is widely available.

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