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COVID-19 Vaccine Guide: Debunking Myths and Confronting Fears through Fact Checking

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How ready are you to receive your COVID-19 vaccine? Do you have trypanophobia or fear of the needles and injections? Or, are you still having second thoughts whether to get that first jab in your local health center with all the rumors circulating about the COVID-19 vaccines? It cannot be denied that we are all vulnerable not just from the virus, but also to COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and fake news. In this regard, the best way to keep ourselves and our families safe is to debunk COVID-19 vaccine myths and to confront our fears and worries associated with it. Let this article enlighten your thoughts, and be part of a premium community that is safe and healthy because of herd immunity.

The Greatest Threat of the World

All these years, we have always anticipated that if there would be threats in the world, it will either be a visible enemy or a natural disaster. Little did we know that the greatest threat we will ever face is an enemy that is seen beyond the naked eye. Moreover, it has left humanity defenseless that caused millions of lives in just more than a year. It shook human civilization as it massively affected the economic, social, health, and education system far beyond what we could have ever imagined. This is just the bird’s eye view of what a coronavirus can do.

Under the microscope, a coronavirus will be severely infecting its host with its protein spikes that look like a crown (in Latin terms: corona). Among all the many variants of coronaviruses present in the world, there were seven coronaviruses that can infect humans and spread diseases like wildfire. Four of which can cause colds that can be mildly or severely contagious infections of the nose and the throat while the other two target the lungs that could cause a severe respiratory syndrome.

Unfortunately, the SARS-COV-2, which is also known as COVID-19, is a highly contagious infection of the nose, throat, and the lungs. Hence, this is the reason for its continuous mutation and replication at a rapid rate since each host can be a manufacturer of new strains. For this reason, everyone needs to observe proper health protocols and everyone needs COVID-19 vaccine to achieve herd immunity for the good of all.

Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

Before the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, everyone in the country needs to observe the minimum health protocols. First, those who are under the age of 18 and over the age of 60 are not allowed to go outside unless essential. Second, those people who have an essential travel because of work and other important reasons need to wear face masks and face shields at all times. Lastly, everyone needs to observe social distancing and everyone has the limit in terms of their mobility and having social gatherings.

It is true that the pandemic may have confined us longer than expected and it may have redefined connections. Yet, we cannot deny that this pandemic taught us new hobbies and discovered new fun activities to do, especially this summer. We have unleased our inner cooking talent in the kitchen and we have discovered that virtual life is not bad at all. Furthermore, we have more opportunity to learn how to become financially stable and live a comfortable life in the city amidst the pandemic. Above all, we have managed to transform our spaces to become our work areas effectively. Nonetheless, we are still humans after all. We still crave for physical touch and belongingness that really warms the soul. However, the only way that we can go back to normal is through COVID-19 vaccination. Rest assured that when everyone is vaccinated, everyone is protected.

How do COVID-19 vaccines work?

It is understandable that one might be skeptical when it comes to the efficiency or even worried from the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. One of the reasons for this skepticism or worry is the lack of knowledge regarding how vaccines work.

First, vaccines introduce safe amounts of antigens in the body. These antigens will generate the response to produce antibodies that will fight foreign threats in the body. Hence, this will help the immune system recognize the dangers as hostile. Thus, shielding the body for future severe infections.

One should know that human bodies have an innate defense system called antibodies that act as soldiers while our immune system works as an alert center whenever a dangerous foreign substance enters the body. Some of the immune responses could be through coughing, sneezing, inflammation, or even fever.

On the other hand, vaccines are like invisible armors in our body that prepares our immune system for the battle. In fact, the vaccines are the general commanders in the battlefield. They will be the one to inform the soldiers or antibodies to get ready in fighting back against the foreign threat that entered the body. Hence, the vaccines will help introduce the the immune system to a disease in its weakest strength. As a result, our immune system will have the strength to fight back once the full-blown disease enters the body. However, one should not misconceive vaccines to having a placebo effect. Having your COVID-19 vaccine does not entail 100% protection from any diseases. Therefore, it is not a magic capsule that will give you a super strength.

Vaccines are safe

According to Dr. Lulu Bravo, a vaccine expert as well as the Director for the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, no vaccine exists in the world that gives 100% immunity to a disease. In fact, no vaccine is 100% safe nor 100% effective. Thus, one must understand that vaccines provide preventive measures towards serious circumstances such as death from a disease. In fact, the World Health Organization breaks this common misconception by stating that vaccines can actually prevent 2 to 3 million deaths in a year since 1798. Dr. Lulu Bravo even pointed out that vaccines have been existing for 220 years.

There are 26 diseases that vaccines were able to prevent since then. Particularly, they are the anthrax, measles, rubella, cholera, meningococcal disease, influenza, diptheria, mumps, tetanus, hepatitis A, pertussis, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, pneumonococcal disease, typhoid fever, hepatitis E to name a few. Moreover, there are 4 recent vaccine-available diseases added to this list which are the ebola, dengue, malaria, and COVID-19. Hopefully, the HIV vaccine will soon be created.

Debunking COVID-19 Vaccine Myths

With the overwhelming information available in the social media, you should be vigilant when it comes to trusting your source when it comes to COVID-19 vaccine information. Prior to believing any facts, you should always fact check from the reliable sources which include the Department of Health and the World Health Organization.

Believing in myths won’t resolve anything. It will actually make things worse for you because you will shy away from the benefit of getting vaccinated. To do nothing is to take a risk.

1. COVID-19 Vaccines are rushed so they are not safe.

You should know that all vaccines being used here in the Philippines have undergone clinical trials and they are proven safe by health authorities.

Dr. Lulu Bravo reiterates that the COVID-19 vaccines are safe because the host are being preserved from a real danger. It actually far outweighs the danger (the side effects) they represent.

2. It changes your DNA

Our DNA cannot be altered by any kind of vaccine at all. It only gives our immune system a boost to fight threatening diseases.

3.  It can give you COVID-19

One should know that there were no live virus strains being transmitted in a COVID-19 vaccine.

4.  It contains egg proteins

Do you have egg allergies? Well, you are still eligible to be vaccinated since COVID-19 vaccines do not have egg proteins in it.

5.  It causes severe side effects

According to Dr. Lulu Bravo, 70-80% of the time you will get mild symptoms from any type of vaccines injected on you. She also added that the remaining 20% will lead to your own death because of what you are afraid of. Therefore, you should recognize that you will surely survive from the side effects compared to full-blown impact of the disease.

6. It makes women infertile

There was no official study nor evidence that COVID-19 vaccines result to infertility.

7. COVID-19 vaccines are expensive

There are no reasons for you not to get vaccinated because these vaccines are offered for free by the Local Government Units (LGUs). You just need to know how you can register and secure your vaccination slot in your respective municipality/city. In fact, there are LGUs who curated different gimmicks in order to encourage everyone to be vaccinated. For instance, the Muntinlupa LGU gives raffle tickets in every vaccine registration. The weekly winner will have the chance of having a sack of rice as a prize.

8. COVID-19 vaccines are for those who are immuno compromised

Everyon of us are vulnerable to any type of diseases whether you are healthy or immune compromised. Hence, vaccination is for everyone. If you doubt about this, it will be better to consult your doctor before getting vaccinated.

Get to Know Your COVID-19 Vaccines

With all the available COVID-19 vaccine types in the Philippines, do you really know which vaccine is right for you? Does vaccine efficacy really matter when choosing the right one?

Most people rely on the efficacy rate of a vaccine. For this reason, many Filipinos are opting to choose Pfizer brand over the others. However, the 95% efficacy rate of Pfizer against COVID-19 will not be effective if majority of the population will not be vaccinated. In other words, do not look at the efficacy rate of the vaccine rather observe how the COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out in the community.

Below are the different COVID-19 vaccine brands and their efficacy rate and the number of doses you should take.

a. BNT162b2 (Pfizer & BioNTech) – 95%

b. mRNA – 1273 (Moderna) – 94% – 2 doses at 4 weeks apart

c. Gam-COVID-Vac Sputnik V – 92% – 2 doses at 3 weeks apart

d. NVX-CoV2373 (Novavax) – 89%

e. ChAdOx1 nCoV-2019 (AstraZeneca) – 70% – 2 doses at 12 weeks apart

f. JNJ-78436735 (Johnson & Johnson) – 66% in Brazil and 91% in Turkey

g. Coronavac (Sinovac) – 50% (65% in Indonesia) – 2 doses at 4 weeks

An Advice from a Vaccine Expert

Dr. Lulu Bravo advised that you cannot compare these vaccines from one another in terms of their efficacy rate as if you are comparing the sizes of your apples. When you talk about efficacy, it is like comparing apples to oranges. It is because all of the clinical trials that were done have been different from one another, particularly in the environment in which these vaccines have been tested. According to Dr. Lulu Bravo, the COVID-19 vaccines created from the European countries were exposed to mild or even asymptomatic conditions wherein the population is not heavily crowded. On the contrary, the Sinovac were given to people who are exposed to COVID-19 daily. On the other hand, although the AstraZeneca vaccine harbors a European brand, it was created in South Africa that has the same environmental conditions in the Philippines.

In other words, you should look more into the clinical tries that each vaccine has underwent in order to compare one vaccine from another.

“In spite of the given efficacy rate, all vaccines are effective particularly at preventing serious/severe diseases (85-100%)” – Dr. Lulu Bravo

Hence, you should not be anxious that COVID-19 will kill you given the estimated efficacy rate from the clinic trials of those who have low efficacy rates. The most important about getting vaccinated is to be able to overcome COVID-19 either with mild to moderate symptoms or even having no symptoms at all. In this way, you can recover faster once you have contracted the virus.

The Possible Side Effects of COVID-19 Vaccines According to the Brand

If you will be vaccinated with a specific brand, you need to know its possible side effects. For Pfizer vaccine, the common adverse effects reported are short-term, mild-to-moderate pain in the injection site, fatigue, and headache. On the other hand, AstraZeneca has injection site pain and tenderness, fatigue, headache, feverishness, and myalgia as its common side effects. Next, the Sinovac can produce local lymphadenopathy at the injection site, allergic reactions from any of the components of the vaccine (i.e. hives, allergic rashes, purpura, and anaphylactic shock), and convulsion with or without fever.

Fourth, the Sputnik V could induce pain on the injection site, hyperthermia, swelling, headache, asthenia, muscle pain, malaise, sore throat, diarrhea, rhinorrhea, loss of appetite, pain in the oropharynx, nasal congestion, colds, sneezing, and cough. Moderna has side effects such as pain on the injection site, axillary lymphadenopathy, fever, headached, fatigue, myalgia, arthralgia, nausea, vomiting, and chills. Lastly, Jansen has pain in the injection site, redness, and swelling, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea.

What should I do before, during, and after having my COVID-19 Vaccine?

Although it will take some time for our scientists to discover how the COVID-19 vaccines can prevent virus transmission in the future, still your life is too precious to be overlooked.

Here are a few steps that you should remember as you start your vaccine journey.

Before Vaccination

a. Research about the COVID-19 vaccines from reputable sources

b. Check with your healthcare provider if COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for you

During Vaccination

a. Read the fact sheet and consent about the specific COVID-19 vaccine that you will receive.

b. Make sure that you have indicated your honest health record/history

c. Receive your vaccination card in the satellite health office

After Vaccination

a. Expect some side effects

b. Continue observing the health protocols not only to protect yourself, but also your community

What are you waiting for?

Let’s all get vaccinated and experience the perk of being part of the movement towards herd immunity. Protect your loved ones, today!

Vaccines Work. They are safe and proven effective.