Close

Health library

Back to health library
COVID-19 vaccines. Get the facts.

Reviewed 5/18/2022

COVID-19 vaccines: Get the facts

As you consider getting vaccinated for COVID-19, you may have questions. You might even feel nervous. That's OK.

Learning the facts about the COVID-19 vaccines can help you make a good choice for you, your family and your community.

Here's a look at some common COVID-19 vaccine myths and facts.

MYTH: Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can make me sick with COVID-19.

None of the current U.S. vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. Instead, the vaccines teach your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus. This keeps you from getting sick with COVID-19.

FACT: The vaccines are very effective at stopping COVID-19.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been shown to work well in preventing COVID-19. And if you do get the coronavirus, these vaccines lower your risk of getting very sick. Each of these vaccines requires two doses to deliver their full protection. Booster shots help keep that protection strong.

MYTH: I've had COVID-19, so I don't need a vaccination.

Having COVID-19 gives you natural immunity to the disease, but health experts don't know how long natural immunity lasts. A vaccine can add to your protection. So even if you've had COVID-19, you should still get vaccinated.

MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccines will alter my DNA.

The vaccines will not have any effect on your DNA at all. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines contain messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA teaches your cells how to make a protein from the coronavirus. That prompts your immune system to create antibodies which fight the virus that causes COVID-19. But the mRNA never enters the nucleus of your cells, which is where DNA is found. It never interacts with your DNA in any way.

FACT: The vaccines do not affect a woman's ability to have a baby.

There is currently no evidence that the antibodies formed after COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with pregnancy. In fact, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine.

FACT: I can get a vaccine for free.

The U.S. government has paid for vaccine doses with taxpayer money, so vaccines are being given to Americans at no cost. It's possible that vaccine providers may charge an administration fee for giving the vaccines, but this will be covered by insurance, or by a special government fund if the patient is uninsured. No one will be denied a vaccine because of an inability to pay the administration fee.

MYTH: Anyone can get a vaccine right now.

Everyone 5 and older in the U.S. is now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines are not yet available to younger children. Check with your local health department to find out how to make an appointment.

MYTH: The vaccines were developed too fast to know if they're really safe or not.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use mRNA technology to produce antibodies to the COVID-19 virus. This technology had been in development for years before COVID-19 came into existence, so the researchers weren't working from scratch. In addition:

  • China shared genetic information about the virus early on.
  • Researchers conducted all the usual testing steps. They just conducted them on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster.
  • Social media was used to find volunteers for vaccine tests.
  • Companies began making vaccines early on, so supplies were ready by the time vaccines were authorized.
  • The vaccines have gone through rigorous studies to be sure they are as safe as possible.

FACT: The side effects of the vaccines are minor.

Some, but not all, people have temporary side effects after being vaccinated. Side effects people have reported include:

  • Pain at the injection site.
  • Body aches.
  • Headaches.
  • Fever.

These side effects only last for a day or two. They are signs that your body is building immunity against the virus. You should call your doctor if symptoms last more than two days.

FACT: The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine is not recommended for everyone.

The J&J vaccine works to protect people from severe COVID-19. But in rare cases, people have developed blood clots after getting the vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided to limit its use. It is only for adults who would not be vaccinated without it. That includes people who are allergic to the mRNA vaccines. If you do not want an mRNA vaccine, you can still choose the J&J vaccine.

Do you know the myths and facts behind COVID-19 itself?

Learn what's true

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Johns Hopkins Medicine; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Related stories