Health officials debunk COVID-19 vaccine myths

Mayo Clinic officials say Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective

ORLANDO, Fla. – As the United States waits for a COVID-19 vaccine, the internet has lit up with misinformation spreading nearly as fast as the virus itself.

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Health care workers are preparing to administer vaccines and they are not only battling distribution but also distrust--about whether a vaccine created in months--rather than years--is safe.

Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi is an infectious disease specialist with the University of Florida and has studied the science behind the vaccine.

“I think with anything new its human tendency to be watchful,” Cherabuddi said.

One myth states coronavirus vaccines are not safe because they were developed quickly.

“I would say everything we know indicates safety,” Cherabuddi said.

He said all the safety protocols for the vaccine were followed.

The Mayo Clinic agrees. The Pfizer vaccine was studied in 43,000 people and proven “safe and effective” among those studied, according to Mayo Clinic’s website, which debunks vaccine myths.

Dr. Victor Herrera is an infectious disease specialist with Advent Health which will be one of the first hospital systems in Florida to get the vaccine.

“It basically creates immunity without having to go through the real disease,” Herrera said.

Advent Health also produced a blog called “The Truth about Coronavirus Vaccine Myths”.

The blog addresses another myth making the rounds--the vaccine will give you COVID-19.

“None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the United States use the live virus that causes COVID-19,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“That’s a common misconception,” Herrera said. “All vaccines, it’s possible can produce some mild symptoms and some people tend to associate that with actually getting the disease,” he said.

Social media has amplified misinformation.

A tweet, which incorrectly claimed another myth, that Pfizer’s vaccine tampers with your DNA is also circulating.

According to the CDC, receiving a moderna vaccine, like Pfizer’s, will not alter your DNA.

A video making the same false claim was widely circulated on Facebook.

It was tagged with a fact check that it’s false and has now been removed.

Even as the medical community tries to debunk these myths, they worry about the damage the myths have already done.

A poll by Pew Research Center last month shows 60 percent of Americans say they will probably or definitely get the COVID-19 vaccine and 39 percent say they probably or definitely will not.

That’s a problem in terms of slowing the spread of the virus through herd immunity.

According to Mayo Clinic, at least 70 percent of the population would have to be immunized through infection or vaccine.

Herrera said the vaccine is safe.

“We are very optimistic the same way that we have seen it with other diseases, the vaccine is that first step to complete the control of COVID-19.”

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

What is the Trust Index?

“Based on information from Mayo Clinic, the CDC, and interviews with two physicians, we give all of the myths mentioned Not True on the Trust Index.

About the Authors:

Emmy Award-winning reporter Louis Bolden joined the News 6 team in September of 2001 and hasn't gotten a moment's rest since. Louis has been a General Assignment Reporter for News 6 and Weekend Morning Anchor. He joined the Special Projects/Investigative Unit in 2014.

Emmy-nominated journalist Kristin Cason joined the News 6 team in June 2016.