DR Jane Falconer is a Senior Lecturer in Immunology at the University of Sunderland.
Today, as the Covid vaccine rolls out across the world, Dr Falconer dispels some of the ‘myths’ surrounding the vaccination process.
Myth #1: Covid vaccines are unsafe because they have been fast-tracked into production.
Truth: Safe Covid vaccines have been produced quickly because of a global effort among experts. They have all focused on a single task and learned lessons from recent outbreaks of Ebola and Zika viruses.
Myth #2: I will be forced to take the vaccine and that infringes my human rights.
Truth: You will not be forced to take the vaccine, it is a choice. But if you choose to take the vaccine you will be protecting both yourself and the vulnerable.
Myth #3: Natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity so I’ll take my chances.
Truth: Re-infection with Covid is possible and we cannot predict who will get severe disease. We do know that the new vaccine protects around 90% of people so the safest option is to have it.
Myth #4: The vaccines are pointless unless everyone takes them.
Truth: If you are vaccinated you will be protected regardless of who else is vaccinated. But the more people who are vaccinated the better because this will protect babies and other vulnerable groups who can’t be vaccinated themselves.
Myth #5: The type of vaccines for Covid have never been tried before – we’re all just guinea pigs.
Truth: mRNA vaccines have been tested on animals and were very safe and effective against influenza virus, Zika virus, rabies virus and others. mRNA vaccines have also been tested in human clinical trials to treat cancer.
Myth #6: This is just another thalidomide scandal waiting to happen.
Truth: Thalidomide was a drug used 50 years ago when we knew much less about chemistry and biology than we do now. We have learned lessons from centuries of drug and vaccine development and that is why we have been able to make a safe vaccine quickly.
Myth #7: The vaccine will contain a microchip that will track me for the rest of my life.
Truth: There is no truth in this. The vaccine will cause an immune response and then be cleared out of the body.