Q & A: Everything you should know about COVID-19 vaccines

Public health officials, some unions who represent front-line workers and physicians are trying to educate people about COVID-19 vaccines and to knock down myths and conspiracy theories. Here are some common questions, and the answers to them:

How does the vaccine work? 

Vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA, a single-strand of genetic code that triggers and teaches your body to make antibodies. 

Was the COVID-19 vaccine rushed or developed too quickly to be safe?

No. Research that made the COVID-19 vaccine possible began in 2003 during the SARS virus and has continued in the years since. There have been no shortcuts in the vaccine development process. The process was quicker because of strategic efforts to run concurrent trials and streamline paperwork, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) said.

Can I get infected with COVID-19 from the vaccination? 

No. None of the COVID-19 vaccines used now contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. The mRNA vaccines instead use genetic code to teach your immune system how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19.

Should pregnant or breastfeeding women get vaccinated? 

The Centers for Disease Control has said the women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may choose to get vaccinated. There is no safety data, however, on how the vaccine may impact pregnant women because pregnant women were not part of the initial vaccine trials. The COVID-19 vaccines are not thought to be a risk to breastfeeding infants.

Do I need two vaccinations?

Yes. The vaccines being used in Ohio require two doses taken weeks apart. Note that you can become infected and ill with COVID-19 after your first vaccination, and even in the days after your second because it takes the vaccines several weeks to build your immunity, ODH said.

Should someone with allergies get a COVID-19 vaccine?

It depends. If you have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications — including food, pets, venom, environmental or latex allergies— the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) said you should get the COVID-10 vaccination. People with a history of allergies to oral medications may also get vaccinated. If, however, you have had an immediate allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies for other diseases, ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC says.

Does the COVID-19 vaccine cause medical problems?

No. The vaccines being used in Ohio have been tested on more than 73,000 people and no serious safety concerns were observed. The most common side effects were fatigue, headache, soreness or redness at the injection site and muscle or joint pain. These side effects are a sign the vaccine is working and that your body is creating immunity from the virus, the ODH said. 

Is the vaccine tied to 5G or tracking microchips?

No. Vaccine injections do not contain microchips, nanochips, RFID trackers or devices that would track or control your body in any way, the ODH said.

Do vaccines cause autism?

No. Studies conducted around the world continue to show there is no connection between autism and vaccines, the ODH said. 

Can I stop wearing a mask after I get a vaccine?

No. While the vaccine will protect you from getting ill from COVID-19, it is not yet clear about whether vaccinated people can still carry and spread the virus to others, the ODH said. So even after you're vaccinated, you should continue wearing a mask and practice social distancing to protect others. 

Can the vaccine impact female fertility?

No. Experts say there has been a false claim that vaccines contained ingredients capable of “training the female body to attack” a protein that plays a crucial role in the development of the placenta, syncytial-1. But Stephanie Langel, an immunologist and expert in maternal and neonatal immunity at Duke University, told the New York Times that that coronavirus spike and the placental protein in question have almost nothing in common.The two proteins share only a minuscule stretch of material and "mixing them up would be akin to mistaking a rhinoceros for a jaguar because they are wearing the same collar."

Question: Could mRNA vaccine change my DNA (or genetic makeup)?

No. mRNA -- messenger ribonucleic acid -- is incapable of altering your DNA. The mRNA from the vaccine never enters the nucleus of your body’s cells, which is where DNA is kept, the Ohio Department of Health says.

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