Since the COVID-19 vaccine was announced, there has been a lot of information circulating about whether it is safe, effective and much more. Unfortunately, a lot of that information tends to be either false or wrongly reported by media outlets.
Here are some myths about the COVID-19 vaccination that can help you better understand not only the vaccine, but the virus in general.
Information last updated: March 29th 2021.
The majority of current vaccines available in Canada require 2 doses in order to give full protection. It is the case for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine and the AstraZeneca/Covishield vaccine.
The second dose helps prolong your protection against COVID-19, however the total duration is currently unknown. Follow the recommendations of your healthcare professional regarding the interval between doses.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires a single dose.
Approved vaccines in Canada :
Current recommendations suggest to wait at least 28 days after each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, before getting another vaccine. It is also suggested that no other vaccine, aside from the flu or pneumococcal vaccines, should be received 14 days before the COVID-19 vaccine.
It is important to note that full protection takes days and not hours to develop after having received the vaccine. You are considered protected 2 weeks after having received your second dose (for vaccines requiring 2 doses) or 2 weeks after your unique Johnson & Johnson dose.
However, current efficiency data suggest an effective protection 3 weeks after having received the first dose. The second dose's purprose is mainly to make the duration of the long-term protection last longer and can be given up to 16 weeks after the first dose, depending on your province.
The minimal recommended interval between doses for the Moderna & Pfizer vaccine is 21 days; the interval between doses for AstraZeneca is 28 days. Public Health's recommendations suggest an interval of 16 weeks between the 2 doses.
The vaccine does not treat COVID-19, it helps prevent the infection. That is why we do not vaccinate people with active symptoms.
The COVID-19 vaccine cannot and will not give you COVID-19.
The current vaccines authorized in Canada helps your organism recognize a protein that is found on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which helps your body develop specific antibodies that will fight the virus is you are exposed to it. The vaccine does not contain the SARS-Co-2 virus, and therefore, does not cause infection of any sort.
People who have had COVID-19 can still benefit from getting vaccinated due to the severe health risks associated with the virus and the fact that re-infection is possible. There is currently insufficient exact information available to say if or how long people are protected from getting COVID-19 after they have had it. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 lasts for a couple of months and that the vaccine offers better protection than natural immunity.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is possible that you will be encouraged to get vaccinated 3 months after your positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
If you are unsure that you ever had COVID-19, the vaccine is still recommended.
YES, like all vaccines, side effects may arise.
The vast majority of reactions are mild and very short term. COVID-19 vaccines are approved by Heatlh Canada and are safe. The most common side effects include:
These are signs that the vaccine is working to stimulate your immune system. These symptoms should not last more than 1-2 days. If symptoms persist beyond 2 days or worsen over time, you should call your healthcare professional.
What to do right after receiving the vaccine:
In fact, vaccination does the exact opposite! Vaccination triggers your immune system to produce specific antibodies and white blood cells that act as a defense against the virus in question.
Those who are immunocompromised due to an auto-immune disease should be informed that it is generally recommended to get vaccinated considering the actual health risks associated with COVID-19 and the expected benefits of the vaccine. There is no reason to suggest that the vaccines will cause any safety problems
Furthermore, those who take immunosuppression medication have a lower immune system, which makes them more at risk of COVID-19, further reinforcing the importance for this population to get vaccinated.
Although the current data is limited in this population, they are strongly encouraged to discuss the vaccine with their healthcare professional in order to make an informed decision and follow current recommendations on the subject.
Currently, there is a limited amount of data surrounding the use of the vaccine in teenagers aged 12 to 15 years old.
The Pfizer vaccine could be considered for teenagers aged 12 to 15 years old, who are at higher risk of virus exposure or serious complications due to COVID-19. Parents/tutor must understand the lack of data surrounding the use of the vaccine in this age group and weigh its advantages against its potential risks. Teenagers aged 16+ can receive the Pfizer vaccine, which has been proven to be effective and safe in this age group.
The risk of COVID-19 related complications is higher in pregnant women, especially those with existing health problems. Vaccination can be offered to pregnant women if benefits outweighs potential risks for them or the foetus, for example women with a higher risk of virus exposure (healthcare workers) or serious complications (diabetics). These women must give their explicit consent as there is limited data surrounding the use of the vaccine in this group.
Breastfeeding women can receive the vaccines as well, if benefits outweigh risks.These women must give their explicit consent as there is limited data surrounding the use of the vaccine in this group.
It is strongly encouraged to talk to your healthcare professional about which vaccine would most benefit you most, beforehand if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or are between 12 to 15 years old.
Contact your pharmacist to make an informed decision and follow current recommendations on the subject.
There is no link between antibiotic or food allergies and a potential reaction to the vaccine. In fact, the only contraindication for the currently available vaccines is a known allergic reaction to one of the components found in the vaccine.
If you have allergies, especially severe ones that require you to carry an EpiPen, discuss the COVID-19 vaccine with your pharmacist, who can assess your risk and provide more information about if and how you can get vaccinated safely.
There are many reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines could be developed so quickly, but in no way was it rushed.
Here are just a few:
The mRNA technology behind the COVID-19 vaccine has been in development for nearly two decades. This technology was created specifically to help respond quickly to a new pandemic illness (for example, COVID-19).
The vaccine does enter your cell, but it does not enter the nucleus where the DNA resides. The mRNA causes the cell to make a specific protein that is found on the COVID-19 virus, which helps stimulate the immune system to develop antibodies that will defend against the virus if your body comes into contact with it.
Once the mRNA is used to make the protein, it quickly breaks down, without affecting your DNA.
Those who get the COVID-19 vaccine are still strongly recommended to practice social distancing and continue wearing masks until further notice.The vaccine does not stop the virus from entering your body, it prevents you from developing moderate to severe symptoms. It is not yet clear whether those vaccinated can still carry and transmit the virus to others, even when they themselves don’t get sick.
Therefore, in order to protect those around you, it is important to continue following government’s recommended safety measures.
Studies on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination against variants are currently in progress. In this moment, some variants are more serious than others, especially the one discovered in South Africa. Even if vaccines seem to be slightly less effective against variants, they still are the most effective method to prevent a COVID-19 infection. Because studies are in progress, more information will come.
Vaccination is still highly recommended, as well as social distancing, wearing a mask, thorough handwashing and self-isolation if you are infected by the virus, to limit the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the protection of the general population.
Despite the emergence of new variants, the SRAS-CoV2 virus is still very much present and continues to provoke serious complications, including death, in many people. Furthermore, vaccines still are effective against variants. Vaccination still is the most effective method to prevent a COVID-19 infection.
Vaccination plans vary according to provinces, eligibility and availability. To find out when you can get vaccinated, check out the Government of Canada's vaccine rollout page.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.