Busting Common Myths about COVID-19 Vaccines
The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines marked a huge turning point in our fight against the virus. Canada’s goal is to vaccinate every eligible person by end of September 2021. However, confusion around the topic is prevalent, and some Canadians have questions about their efficacy and safety.
We understand it can be difficult to know which sources of online information you can trust. Before considering vaccine information on the internet, make sure it comes from a credible, well-regarded source which is updated on a regular basis.
Here are trustworthy sources for information related to COVID-19.
To help answer those questions, and make an informed decision, we used these sources to help set the record straight on some common COVID-19 vaccine myths.
Myth: These vaccines were developed so fast they can’t be safe.
Fact: Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others from serious illness and death from COVID-19. Vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.
The COVID-19 vaccines have gone through the same mandatory rigorous review process as all other Health-Canada approved drugs, only faster due to the severity of the pandemic and the high priority placed on their scientific review.
The development of COVID-19 vaccines builds on years of previous research on related viruses and the strides that have been made in the vaccine manufacturing process.
Myth: We don’t know what is in the vaccines.
Fact: As with any medication approved for use in Canada, the COVID-19 vaccines have been found safe and effective through Health Canada’s independent scientific and medical assessment process. This includes examining the vaccine’s ingredients. The full list of ingredients for vaccines authorized for use in Canada is readily accessible on the Government of Canada website.
Myth: We can get COVID-19 from vaccines.
Fact: None of the authorized and recommended vaccines contain the live virus. This means you cannot get COVID-19 from receiving the vaccination. The approved vaccines protect us from getting COVID-19 and from getting very sick from COVID-19.
Myth: I’ve had COVID-19, so I’m immune to the virus and don’t need the vaccine.
Fact: Getting vaccinated is encouraged to maximize protection. Even if you have previously recovered from COVID-19, you are encouraged to get immunized to optimize your immune protection. There’s still more to learn about the level of immunity people have, once they have recovered from COVID-19, and how long it lasts.
Myth: Getting vaccinated means I won’t have to wear a mask or practice social distancing.
Fact: We haven’t yet reached herd immunity. Nor do we know whether the spread of COVID-19 can be stopped by vaccination alone. Because of this, it's essential that everyone continue to follow public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. This includes masking, sanitizing and distancing guidelines. As more Canadians are immunized, public health measures will be gradually lifted.
Myth: COVID-19 vaccine will alter my DNA because it uses mRNA technology.
Fact: mRNA cannot affect or interact with your DNA in any way. In fact, mRNA never enters the nucleus of the cell where DNA is stored. The pathway for RNA only works in one direction — you can make RNA from DNA, but you cannot make DNA from RNA. The RNA in COVID-19 vaccines acts as a temporary “messenger” (the “m” in RNA) that stimulates your natural immune response, telling your body how to recognize a threat and produce antibodies to expel it.
Myth: The side effects of the vaccine are dangerous.
Fact: After getting vaccinated, it's common and normal to have temporary side effects. It means the vaccine is working and your immune system is responding as it should. Side effects can last a few hours to a few days after vaccination. This is the body's natural response to a vaccine, as it’s working hard to build protection against the disease.
Serious side effects are extremely rare. The vast majority of people (approximately 90%) do not experience any side effects. The remaining 10% experience mild side effects (e.g. soreness at the site of injection) in the days following the vaccine. These side effects are expected and are not serious. Rarely, allergic reactions can occur. This is true of any vaccine.
Myth: Getting a vaccine won’t matter because I still have to follow all the public health measures in place.
Fact: Getting a vaccine does make a difference because you’re helping to protect not only yourself, but your loved ones and community. Vaccines prevent illness and disease and save lives and livelihoods. Mass vaccination of Canadians will help slow the spread of the virus and move us towards a post-pandemic Canada.
Myth: Once I get vaccinated, I am fully protected.
Fact: While a COVID-19 vaccine will protect you from serious illness and death, we still don’t know the extent to which it keeps you from being infected and passing the virus on to others. For the first 14 days after getting a vaccination, you do not have significant levels of protection; then it increases gradually. For a single-dose vaccine, immunity will generally occur two weeks after vaccination. For two-dose vaccines, both doses are needed to achieve the highest level of immunity possible. To help keep you and others safe, continue to follow public health guidelines after you have been vaccinated.
Myth: If I get the vaccine, I won’t qualify for life insurance.
Fact: No one should be afraid and choose to not protect themselves from COVID-19 because they are worried about it affecting their benefits. Contrary to misinformation being shared online, receiving the vaccine will not affect your individual or workplace life or health insurance benefits, including life insurance, or your ability to apply for future coverage.
As a health leader in our communities, your well-being is always our number one priority. If you have questions about COVID-19 and your benefits, or are looking for the latest services and supports, consult your benefit plan policy and view our COVID-19 page.
For the latest information on COVID-19 vaccine access and public health measures in your area, please refer to your local health authority.
Not sure where to get vaccinated?
Each province in Canada has responsibility for administering vaccines. To find out when and where you can get your shot, please click on the link for your provincial government’s relevant web site.