Earth Hour

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy, Myths and Misinformation

Earlier this year, we asked our colleagues whether they would get vaccinated against COVID-19.  Almost 7 out of 10 said that they would get the vaccine once it becomes available. The remaining three were either unsure or will definitely not get vaccinated.  

Unfortunately, our survey results are better than those conducted by private agencies with respondents across the country.  One survey showed that 61% of their subjects would say no to the vaccines, another 23% were uncertain, and only 16% were willing to get inoculated if the vaccines were available at the time of the survey.  The other study had better results, with 32% of their informants willing to receive the vaccine, while 35% were uncertain, and 33% were unwilling. 

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Not surprisingly, the reasons given by those unwilling and uncertain participants of our survey were almost the same as those of the other surveys. Both sets of respondents were worried about the safety of the vaccines that they might get sick of COVID-19, and the vaccine would not help them.  

It does not help that so much information, both right and wrong is readily available on social media and other online sites.  Health experts are worried about the amount of misinformation that they even called an "infodemic."

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Much of the misinformation focus on the vaccine's safety.  Most people are concerned that the laboratories rushed the development of the vaccine and that they did not go through all the required steps.  Authorities with John Hopkins Medicine assure that the developers of the COVID-19 vaccines did not rush on testing for safety and efficacy, and they used processes that have been developed and tested over many years.  These procedures are really to develop — and thoroughly test — vaccines quickly in an infectious disease pandemic like COVID-19.

My favorite myth is that the vaccine carries a microchip that can detect and track the recipient.  When switched on, the chip could alter the person's DNA and turn him into a zombie.  Well, sorry, but no, the vaccine will not turn anybody into a zombie.  WHO explains that the mRNA used in some vaccines only has instructions to produce a protein, and then our natural immune system responds to it.  The mRNA can't turn into DNA, nor can it change the DNA of human cells.  That means there won't be any zombie apocalypse because of the vaccine.

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You will not get COVID-19 from the vaccines since they do not contain live coronavirus. John Hopkins Medicine further explains that you might experience a sore arm after the shots, a mild fever, or body aches, but this doesn’t mean you have COVID-19. These symptoms are temporary, usually lasting only a day or two if you get them. These are signals of a natural response as our body’s immune system learns to recognize and fight the coronavirus.

The other fallacies that continue to circulate are the vaccine could cause infertility among women, and that those who had previous COVID-19 infections do not need to get vaccinated.

Of course, the vaccines themselves will not put an end to the pandemic.  We must all go out and get our shots.  Doing so will not only protect us but also our loved ones and our community as a whole.  Even when we get our vaccines, the Department of Health advises that we continue observing the minimum health standards, such as frequently washing our hands, wearing face masks, and going outside our homes only when necessary.