Health officials bust COVID-19 myths and address common questions
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is on the market for certain groups of the population in West Virginia, health officials addressed frequent questions they receive and common myths, in hopes of making people more knowledgeable about the vaccine.
“If we’re not careful about the misinformation that we have out there and people are more hesitant about this vaccine, we could facing a lot of different challenges (including), additional mutations of the virus, vaccines that are not effective because of those mutations and we may not get to that herd immunity where people can take their mask off and be safe,” said Dr. Sherri Young with Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
Young said she receives many questions on the vaccine, but here are the most common ones:
1. Is the vaccine safe because, it was made so quickly?
“The technology has been here for years,” said Dr. Young. “We’ve had the capability but not the need for an mRNA vaccine, so this was an opportunity for us to do this. Technology has been there but this is a new vaccine (and) people feel like it was rushed to market. (But) we have to think about other places in history where vaccines have really made a huge difference and that’s with polio and smallpox.”
2. Can I still have children after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine? Dr. Dara Aliff says yes.
The short answer to this question is yes, according to Dr. Dara Aliff who is an obstetrician at CAMC Women’s and Children hospital.
“There is no biologically plausible mechanism in which this vaccine can affect fertility,” Aliff said. “Lots of women are concerned about the effects of the vaccine on pregnancy and lactation, or breast feeding, so they want to know specifically if there are any risks to the baby or themselves.”
Dr. Aliff said there is a particle in the vaccine called, mRNA which is a spike protein and it is fairly similar to something that develops in the human placenta.
“So the concern from somebody from years ago, that didn’t work on this vaccine specifically, can that interfere with the human placenta and it’s ability to adhere to the uterus? We know that it can’t.”
She said if that protein did affect the ability for a woman to get pregnant, we would see some women who already had COVID-19, not be able to conceive or carry pregnancies. She says they have not seen that affect on fertility.
“So since the vaccine is made against that spike protein (mRNA), that’s where that whole myth came from and why it hasn’t been plausible at all,” Aliff said.
Ο If I get or have had COVID-19 will I still be able to have children?
“The vaccine or having had the virus itself will not affect (getting pregnant or carrying a child to term),” Aliff told WSAZ. “However, if you happen to get COVID-19 and end up with cardiac compromise like, cardiomyopathy or lung damage, that (could) affect your ability to carry to term or maybe even carry to point of viability so we can deliver your baby.”
Dr. Aliff said they know some side effects of the COVID-19 virus can impair a woman’s ability to carry a baby, but she said they also know that nothing harmful in the vaccine is going to cross into the breast milk and impact the baby negatively.
“What we would hope is that any antibodies a mom makes will cross the breast milk and go to the baby (but) we don’t know that yet for sure if (the vaccine) will make your baby immune to COVID,” she said. “We hope for a positive benefit but that will be a wait and see.”
Ο If someone is currently pregnant, should they wait to get the vaccine or would you tell them to go ahead and get the shot?
“Similarly, there is no biologically plausible reason that they should not get the vaccine. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists came out pretty strongly about that and said ‘pregnant women should not be kept from getting the vaccine particularly, if they’re in high risk professions.’”
She said with the it being an mRNA vaccine, it should not affect human DNA at all.
“The fact that (the vaccine) has not been studied in pregnant women doesn’t inherently mean it’s dangerous for pregnant women,” she told WSAZ. “Currently in this country, we don’t do studies on pregnant women. Even if it’s a blood pressure medication, heartburn medication, a lot of what pregnant women take regularly, were never studied in pregnant women because the FDA doesn’t really allow that to happen.”
3. Can I take ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) before getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
“There are a couple of studies out there that suggest if you take ibuprofen or Tylenol too close to getting that shot, it reduces your immune response because of an anti-inflammatory affect,” said Dr. Young. (But) there’s really nothing that says if you did take it, it’s going to have a big impact on your immunization.”
Young said if you wish to take medicine to get ahead of any potential pain from the vaccine, it is perfectly fine to do so after receiving the COVID-19 shot.
4. Should I avoid the COVID-19 vaccine if I have severe allergies?
“Very early on, after the (vaccine) had been approved by the FDA, you had to be careful because two people in the United Kingdom had an anaphylaxis reaction (from the vaccine) which is where your throat closes up, your airways are restricted and you can’t breathe. That’s a common type of allergic reaction people get to many things (including), food, bee stings, something in the environment (or) it can be to medication.”
Dr. Young said this is one of the reasons they ask people receiving the shot if they have a history of anaphylaxis.
“If you have a history of anaphylaxis (and) if it’s not anything related to vaccines, we go ahead and give you that shot,” she said, “We have EpiPen’s on site to make sure it’s safe for you to receive that.”
She said if you were to have an anaphylaxis reaction, it would happen almost immediately which is why health officials would ask you to stay in place about 30 minutes after receiving your shot. The standard wait time after receiving a vaccine, is 15 minutes.
Check out the WSAZ COVID-19 vaccination guide by clicking here.
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