COVID-19 vaccine facts vs. fiction

Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 4:27 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - As health officials around the region prepare to ramp up what will be the largest public vaccination effort of its kind in history, there remains much uncertainty and questions about the process and its safety. Cat Viglienzoni explains some of the fact versus fiction, as well as what we still don’t know yet.

True or false: The Pfizer vaccine uses a live virus.

This is false. None of the vaccines in development use a live virus. Instead, they use what’s called a messenger RNA platform. It teaches your body’s genetic code to produce antibodies that keep the virus out. “People are worried it will interfere with our own genetic code, but that never gets into the nucleus of the cell where that machinery is, so it’s very safe in that regard,” said Vt. Heath Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine.

You have to take two doses to make it fully effective and you can’t mix and match different companies’ shots. You need both from the same manufacturer. “It takes some time, so don’t think that as soon as you have one vaccination that you’re immune to this virus. I think that’s something that’s really important for people to understand,” said Gov. Phil Scott.

True or false: The Pfizer vaccine has serious side effects.

This is largely false. You may have heard that a couple of health care workers in the UK experienced severe allergic reactions after getting the shot. But Levine says the data he’s seen shows that a small percentage of people who received the trial vaccine had normal vaccine side effects like muscle aches, fatigue, chills, or a headache. An even smaller portion of the group got a fever.

What we don’t know yet

Levine said we still don’t how the vaccine works for kids. That’s why it’s only approved for people 16 or older. There are still studies underway to determine what the effect on children could be.

Another unknown was how it will affect pregnant women. The American College of Obstetricians did report pregnant women and lactating moms could get the vaccine, but you should talk to your OB-GYN before taking the vaccine.

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