Fact vs. Fiction

Does the COVID-19 vaccine alter your DNA? Was it rushed through approval? Vaccine rumors are plentiful. You hear them from your co-workers, see them on social media, and read about them in the paper. At K21, we want to make sure our community is equipped with the facts when making decisions about your health. That’s why we’re setting the record straight about some of the most pervasive COVID-19 vaccine myths.

The vaccines were developed quickly. Can I trust their effectiveness and safety?

Yes. There are many reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines were developed so quickly; here are just a few:

  • The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were created with a method that has been in development for years, so the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic.
  • The vaccine developers didn’t skip any testing steps but conducted some of the steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data more efficiently.
  • Some types of COVID-19 vaccines were created using messenger RNA (mRNA), which allows a faster approach than the traditional method of vaccine development.
  • Because COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated.

Can we really understand the long-term effects of the vaccines already?

No. However, the COVID-19 vaccines will undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, and the results thus far from monitoring efforts are reassuring. Some people have no side effects, and many people have reported only mild side effects after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. To date, VAERS (the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) has not detected patterns that would indicate a safety problem with COVID-19 vaccines.

VAERS accepts reports of any adverse event following vaccination—even if it is not clear the vaccine caused the problem—and the CDC, FDA, and other federal partners will continue to monitor the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID-19?

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that none of the vaccines can infect you with COVID-19.

After getting a COVID-19 vaccine, will I test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines can cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection.

Will a COVID-19 vaccination protect me from getting sick with COVID-19?

Although the vaccine can help prevent infection, there is still the possibility of a “breakthrough infection.” However, fully vaccinated people are less likely to develop serious illness from COVID-19 than those who are unvaccinated, and tend to experience less severe symptoms.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way.

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. Viral vector vaccines use a modified version of a different, harmless virus to deliver instructions to our cells to start building protection. The instructions are delivered in the form of genetic material. This material does not enter a person’s DNA. At the end of the process, our bodies have learned how to protect against future infection from COVID-19.

Now that authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines are available, accurate vaccine information can help stop common myths and rumors.

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Want to Learn More?

Check out our other resources—including blogs, external sources, and downloadable content—to dive deeper into COVID-19 vaccine research and information.

View More COVID-19 Resources

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