COVID-19 Vaccine Facts

As part of our ongoing effort to educate our campus community about getting vaccinated, we’d like to share the following information about concerns that have been expressed. There are many myths and much misinformation about COVID-19 and that has challenged the acceptance of the vaccine.

View the latest information and frequently asked questions on COVID-19 vaccination boosters

CONCERN: How do I know which sources of COVID-19 vaccine information are accurate?

FACT: It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust. Learn more about finding credible vaccine information. We hope you will seek verifiable guidance from .org or .gov websites and research articles in peer-reviewed publications.

CONCERN: The vaccine was developed too quickly.

FACT: The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were developed with a method and on a platform that has been in place for 20+ years. Although this happened in record time, they have gone through the same rigorous Food and Drug Administration processes as other vaccines, carefully meeting all safety standards. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other experts reviewed data from the clinical trials more quickly than normal by looking at data as it came in rather than waiting until the trials were complete. Researchers used the same safety and efficacy standards as with previous vaccines. The clinical trials and safety reviews of the COVID-19 vaccine actually took about the same amount of time as other vaccines developed in recent years.

No safety protocols were changed or skipped. Multiple studies continue across the United States, including one at Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The authorized vaccines have proven very safe and effective. Our appreciation goes to those who were a part of the unprecedented worldwide collaboration and investment for the shorter timeframe on the development of the vaccines.

The widespread and contagious nature of COVID-19 has allowed researchers to determine very quickly that the vaccine is indeed very safe and is very effective in preventing the disease, including many of the variants.

CONCERN: The COVID-19 vaccine enters your cells and changes your DNA

FACT: The COVID-19 vaccines available were designed to help the body’s immune system fight the coronavirus. The messenger RNA from two of the first types of COVID-19 vaccines does enter cells, but not the nucleus of the cells where DNA resides. The mRNA’s job is to cause the cell to make protein to stimulate the immune system, and then it quickly breaks down without affecting a person’s DNA, and is excreted from the body.

The mRNA technology behind the new coronavirus vaccines has been in development for almost two decades. Vaccine makers at that time and since have created the technology which helped with the quick response to a new pandemic illness, such as COVID-19.

CONCERN: The COVID-19 vaccine was developed with or contains controversial substances such as aborted fetal tissue or implants.

FACT: The first two COVID-19 vaccines to be authorized by the FDA contain mRNA and other, normal vaccine ingredients, such as fats (which protect the mRNA), salts, as well as a small amount of sugar. These COVID-19 vaccines were not developed using any aborted fetal tissue. Furthermore, contrary to social media and various other sites, the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain material, such as implants, microchips or tracking devices.

CONCERN: The COVID-19 vaccine can affect women’s fertility.

FACT: The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, John Hopkins Medicine (JHM), and numerous other evidence-based research entities state that the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect fertility. According to JHM “the COVID-19 vaccine encourages the body to create copies of the spike protein found on the coronavirus’s surface. This “teaches” the body’s immune system to fight the virus that has that specific spike protein on it.”

The false report said that “getting the COVID-19 vaccine would cause a woman’s body to fight this different spike protein and affect her fertility. The two spike proteins are completely different and distinct, and getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not affect the fertility of women who are seeking to become pregnant, including through in vitro fertilization methods. During the Pfizer vaccine tests, 23 women volunteers involved in the study became pregnant, and the only one who suffered a pregnancy loss had not received the actual vaccine, but a placebo.”

Please remember that getting the COVID-19 disease can have potentially serious impact on pregnancy and the mother’s health. Discussions with your women’s health provider are strongly encouraged as related to additional questions you may have on this topic.

CONCERN: The side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are dangerous including giving you COVID-19.

FACT: The COVID-19 vaccine can have some minor side effects, but the vast majority are very short term —not serious or dangerous. The vaccine developers report that some people experience sore arm like any other shot; body aches; headaches or fever, lasting for a few hours but typically disappear the following day. These are signs that the vaccine is working to stimulate your immune system. While rare, if symptoms persist beyond two days, you should call your doctor.

Based on current data provided on reputable websites 99% of persons receiving the Pfizer vaccine experience no adverse issues following vaccination. If you have serious allergies or complex health concerns, you should discuss receiving the vaccine with your doctor.

The vaccine for COVID-19 cannot and will not give you COVID-19. The vaccine instructs your cells to reproduce a protein that is part of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This will help your body to recognize and fight the virus, if it comes along. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain the SARS-Co-2 virus, so you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. The protein that helps your immune system recognize and fight the virus does not cause any infection.

CONCERN: Vaccine hesitancy due to centuries of having trust violated

FACT: Historically Black, Hispanic, Native American and other population groups have been unknowingly used as test subjects or had treatment denied because of their race or ethnic group. Vaccine hesitancy from these groups is certainly understandable. Unfortunately, underlying health conditions, access to care and other issues have made these groups an even greater risk for developing COVID-19, experiencing a severe case of the disease and higher rates of morbidity. Vaccine studies and testing included persons of color, those with complex health issues and frontline and healthcare workers.

CONCERN: Quarantining protocols following vaccination completion.

FACT: Individuals who complete the COVID-19 vaccination shots will not have to quarantine when exposed to those who are COVID infected. In addition, vaccinated individuals can travel using mass transit without having to quarantine when they return home. Vaccinated individuals may gather together in smaller groups with each other without masks, visit each other in rooms and apartments and enjoy dinners together.

However, we will still need to practice infection prevention precautions until more of us are vaccinated. These include practicing the 3 W’s at all times. Wear your mask in presence of others, staying at least 6 feet from people outside your household and wash your hands frequently. Learn more about the benefits of being fully vaccinated.