CLEVELAND – When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, it’s important to focus on fact, not fiction.
Cleveland Clinic’s Tosin Goje, MD, said one common misconception is that messenger RNA, or mRNA, technology is new.
“The technology for mRNA has been with us for at least 10-15 years,” she said. “It was initially put together for cancer patients. So, it’s not like we just found this technology within the past year for COVID. It’s something that’s been in place and when the opportunity came it was like an ‘aha’ moment, like we can use this technology.”
Some people think the vaccine may cause coronavirus – but that’s a myth.
“It’s not going to give you COVID,” said Dr. Goje. “It’s not a live vaccine. You’re not going to get a COVID infection.”
Another mistaken belief is that messenger RNA vaccines can alter your DNA, but RNA and DNA are different.
“It’s not changing your DNA,” Dr. Goje said. “People think, ‘Oh, it’s going to change me’. It’s not integrating itself into your DNA. It’s not changing who you are.”
Dr. Goje said people also think they may not need the vaccine if they’ve already had COVID-19, but that’s not the case.
“When an infection is novel, we don’t know how long your immunity lasts,” she said. “So immunity, whether it’s natural or from a vaccine, will wane over time. So, even though you had an infection you still need almost like a booster.”
Even after receiving a vaccine, we should continue to wear a mask, socially distance and wash our hands to protect those who aren’t vaccinated.
Vaccines are a step toward ending the pandemic, but Dr. Goje reminds us it will be months before we achieve herd immunity – the point where disease is no longer likely to spread.