We know many people in Okanogan County are still deciding if they will get the COVID-19 vaccine, and it can be difficult to get information from trusted sources to guide that decision. Below are a few questions we often hear from those who are considering getting vaccinated, all responses come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other scientifically rigorous sources, referenced below.
If you have more questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, talk with your physician or primary healthcare provider.
Q: Will mRNA from the vaccine change my DNA?
A: The mRNA from the vaccine does not affect your DNA in any way.
Your DNA is inside the nucleus of your cells, and the mRNA from the vaccine does not enter the cell nucleus. It does enter the cell to carry a ‘script’ to the ribosome, which is the part of the cell that makes proteins. The mRNA script tells the ribosome to make spike protein.
Spike protein is a non-active, non-dangerous protein on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. When your cells make some of this spike protein, your immune cells see it and recognize that it is not part of your body. So, to fight this spike protein, your immune system creates “antibodies.” Because of these new antibodies, the next time your immune system sees the spike protein (like when it encounters the COVID-19 virus), it will attack the protein because it recognizes it as foreign.
While the spike protein is not dangerous by itself, when your antibodies destroy spike protein, they also destroy the way the COVID-19 virus gets into your cells. Without spike protein, the virus can’t get into your cells and make you sick.
Q: Does the vaccine inject something that will stay in my body forever?
A: The mRNA in the vaccine breaks down and leaves your body very quickly.
The mRNA is fragile, which is why the vaccines must be kept cold and why they have an expiration date. As soon as the mRNA gives its message to the ribosome, it breaks apart and is no longer active in your body. The mRNA from the vaccine does not stay inside your cells or become a part of you.
Q: Will the vaccine infect me with COVID-19?
A: The vaccine does not contain live COVID-19 virus or dangerous parts of the virus.
The vaccine contains only water, sugar, fat, and the piece of mRNA. The mRNA carries the message to make spike protein, which is a part of the virus’ surface, but not the part that makes you sick. Spike protein by itself is not dangerous. Your antibodies recognize the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus so that they can attack it and prevent the infectious virus from entering your cells.
Q: Can the COVID-19 vaccine cause infertility?
A: The vaccines do not in any way cause infertility
There is no scientific data that supports a link between the COVID-19 vaccine and infertility.
During the Pfizer vaccine trial, 23 women became pregnant. Twelve individuals received the vaccine, and 11 received placebo. There were no adverse pregnancy-related events.
In the Moderna trial, 13 pregnancies were reported through December 2, 2020; 6 participants received the vaccine, and 7 the placebo. In the placebo group, there was one miscarriage and one elective abortion. There were no negative pregnancy-related events in the group that received the vaccine.
Women who get COVID-19 while they’re pregnant are more likely to have more severe illness and to develop respiratory complications that require intensive care compared to women who aren’t pregnant.
The benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 during pregnancy.
Q: Are mRNA vaccines dangerous for my children?
A: mRNA vaccines have been rigorously tested and proven to be safe for kids 12 years of age and older.
Pfizer completed their extensive trial in 12-15 year-old adolescents and the results showed the vaccine is both safe and very effective. The Pfizer vaccine is currently being tested in kids 6 months – 11 years old.
The trial enrolled 2,260 adolescents 12 to 15 years of age in the United States. In the trial, 18 cases of COVID-19 were observed in the placebo group (n=1,129), and no cases of COVID-19 occured in the vaccinated group (n=1,131).
The 12-15 year-olds experienced side effects that were no worse or different than what people 16 to 25 years of age experienced after getting the shots.
You can read more about the Pfizer clinical trials here: https://www.pfizer.com/news/press-release/press-release-detail/pfizer-biontech-announce-positive-topline-results-pivotal
Information about how the FDA evaluates the vaccine for safety is here: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-legal-regulatory-and-policy-framework/pfizer-biontech-covid-19-vaccine-frequently-asked-questions