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COVID-19 Vaccine – Dispelling the Rumors

covid vaccine infographic

This graphic illustration was created to provide 3d Marine Division service members information about the COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine is designed to generate antibodies that help protect recipients against COVID-19 and combat the spread of the virus. (U.S. Marine Corps Graphic Illustration by LCpl. Jackson Dukes) (This graphic illustration was created using Adobe Illustrator)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --

Unfortunately, a lot of bad information is being distributed about the COVID-19 vaccines (insert History Channel guy with crazy hair meme: It’s Aliens!). It is reasonable to be concerned but we shouldn’t allow fear to make our decision. The truth is the fastest way out of this pandemic is for everyone to be vaccinated. With the assistance of Dr. Stewart Decker, M.D. at Sky Lakes Medical Center, I was able to compile some facts about the COVID-19 vaccine and answer a few of the questions many people have had.

Allergies

One of the big questions we have seen have been related to possible allergies to the vaccine.

Unlike the annual flu vaccine, there are no eggs in either COVID-19 vaccine.  This new type of vaccine is made WITHOUT needing to grow proteins in egg tissue, so those with egg allergies rejoice!

The CDC says that those with severe allergies to other vaccines, eggs, bee stings, etc can still get the COVID vaccine, but should be cautious - stay for 15-30 minutes at the vaccine site in case you do react.  The only true show stoppers are if you have had: 

  1. Anaphylaxis or immediate local allergic reaction to a prior dose of the COVID vaccine (aka don't get the second one if the first one tries to kill you, which is rare)
  2. Anaphylaxis or immediate local allergic reaction to a component of the COVID vaccines
  3. Anaphylaxis or immediate local allergic reaction to polysorbate, which might mean that you WILL react to an ingredient that has some cross sensitivity.  

So far there have been 21 people in the United State with severe allergic reactions to the COVID vaccines, out of 1.9 million doses. None of those people have died, because while anaphylaxis is super scary, it is also pretty easy to treat if you're sitting in a hospital, right next to people who are very ready to treat anaphylaxis. That's why we have people sit around for 15-30 minutes afterwards. Long story short - its SUPER RARE to have a bad allergic reaction, but just to be safe, sit around for a few minutes.  

Local reactions, like a raised red rash or soreness, does not mean you cannot get the second shot. It does mean that your immune system is working and creating antibodies, which are attacking the mRNA proteins and causing the local redness / soreness! We are more worried if you end up with hives or tight chest and difficulty breathing.

There is no increased risk of miscarriage or infertility with the vaccines. The best evidence for this comes from women who have had COVID: there was no increased risk of miscarriage and no increased infertility. In a "natural" infection, your body produces the same immune cells as in a vaccine-provoked immune response, so we would expect to see infertility in infected women if there was risk of that with the vaccine.  

mRNA Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccinations are an mRNA vaccine. mRNA vaccines are NOT crazy new. We were able to make these new vaccines so rapidly because mRNA vaccines have been under development for many years for things like flu, zika, and rabies, and have also been researched for use in cancer treatments. We haven't approved/licensed this type of vaccine before because the tools used to fold proteins for widespread use were only made in the last few years, but this is likely how many vaccines will be made in the future. mRNA vaccines may allow for more combo vaccines as well - imagine needing ONE poke for kiddo's childhood vaccines!  

 mRNA does NOT alter DNA. It is like an IKEA instruction manual for a protein - once that protein is made, the mRNA is destroyed. Just like we all immediately destroy the IKEA manual. We definitely don't put it up on our bookshelf to maybe pleasure-read later. Once that protein is made, the mRNA is useless trash…just like used IKEA construction manuals. 

The Moderna vaccine was originally studied with a 24 day gap between the first and second doses. Mirroring the vaccine trial is what influenced the schedule for the second dose. 

Moral Concerns

The Pfizer & Moderna vaccines do not contain fetal cells. Neither vaccine uses fetal cells in production or development.  However, so you have the full picture, both vaccines tested efficacy using fetal cells. Notably, Pope Francis said the use of the vaccines does NOT condone abortion and has also received his first dose, along with Pope Benedict. I know this is an area of apprehension for many people, and I respect your concerns on this. The take away is that no fetal cells have ever touched or are part of the actual dose of vaccine you get.  

Not getting the vaccine to "save it for someone who needs it" sounds noble, but might backfire. The distribution plan assures that populations who need the vaccine are getting it first. Skilled Nursing Facilities and public health departments received their own vaccine for distribution. If you don’t get the vaccine, you might not get it for some time. Not using a vaccine allotment could mean future shipments are reduced.

Additionally, if you have tested positive for COVID, research currently shows it is worth it to get the vaccine, but only after waiting 90 days from your date of diagnosis. This is because scientists are not certain how long natural immunity lasts.

Final Conclusion

Unfortunately, you aren’t off the hook for wearing a mask after receiving the vaccine. This is largely because most other people won’t have received the vaccine by the time you do. I think that as we learn more we will be able to #freetheface, but for now the kindest, most cautious thing to do is stay masked up.  Whomp Whomp.    

Finally, there are, thankfully, no microchips in either vaccine. Unfortunately, the vaccine will not give you random super powers. It's just a vaccine, though if you think of immunity as kind of a super power...

For more information on mRNA vaccines you can check out the CDC website at:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html#:~:text=mRNA%20Vaccines%20Are%20New%2C%20But%20Not%20Unknown&text=This%20means%20the%20process%20can,%2C%20and%20cytomegalovirus%20(CMV).