[COLUMN] Myths vs facts: Why some people still refuse to be vaccinated despite the risk of COVID-19 and the Delta variant

Photo by Steven Cornfield on Unsplash

SEPTEMBER is just weeks away and children are going back to school in person soon, even earlier in California where most schools begin in August.

Yet, the coronavirus pandemic continues to haunt us through the more infectious Delta variant, which is now the cause of more than 83% of new cases in the United States, a big spike from the 15-20% when I wrote about it in early July.

We all felt jubilant to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday with family and friends for the first time since March of 2020 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eased many safety measures. This move followed the victories we’ve had in dramatically lowering infection, hospitalization and death rates with the boost in vaccination against COVID-19 since President Joe Biden took office in January. But we have now reached a roadblock: the Delta variant, just when some Americans refuse to be vaccinated despite efforts of the government to protect them.

In January 2021, we had a record high of 229,977 cases, and with the roll-out of nationwide vaccination, we were able to bring it down to 6,789 on June 26, with about 70% of adults in America getting at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly half with the two doses.

Unfortunately, as of July 18, 2021, the number of confirmed COVID cases in America has gone up dramatically to 55,828 new cases. These cases are mostly people who have not been vaccinated yet despite the push of the Biden administration.

The death toll in the U.S. as of July 19, 2021 is at 230 – a lot lower than where we were last January 12, with 4,406 people killed by the virus in one day alone. This is why it is important for people to be vaccinated. While the vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna have 95 percent efficacy, which may still leave a 5 percent chance of being infected again by the virus and its variants. However, the vaccine helps avert deadly symptoms that lead to hospitalization, being on a ventilator in the ICU and even death.

Facts and figures show that if a person is not vaccinated, then he or she is like going into a war zone without any weapon or arms against the enemy whose mission is to kill. This is what our invisible enemy does.

And even if you may not show any symptoms because you have already contracted the disease or is asymptomatic, you may still be a carrier of the virus and the Delta variant and may put the life of your loved ones who are unvaccinated children or those who are vulnerable because of their existing medical conditions in danger.

Which begs the question: why are these people choosing not to get vaccinated? This is mostly because of the misinformation and disinformation being peddled by those who either have no knowledge about the disease and the vaccine and are just spreading what they heard as chismis without basis in facts. Others are just ill-motivated because of political and personal reasons, preying on unsuspecting people who depend on them and trust them.

Dear Filipinos in America: the facts and the data do not lie. Let us do the responsible thing and get vaccinated. My whole family is vaccinated. We are doing well with no adverse effect on our health, especially because my husband is a doctor who makes decisions based on science, guided by their sacred Hippocratic Oath to save lives and do no harm.

This is the same guiding principle of our Filipino nurses and health care workers who have been serving on the front lines in this was against COVID-19, and many of them have died, just so we will live. Let us not take their ultimate sacrifice for granted.

We need to have as many people vaccinated to attain herd immunity. The longer people remain unvaccinated, the greater is the danger they will be infected and suffer from the fatal symptoms because of the virus and the variants. Do not wait for your loved ones and friends to die to achieve her immunity. If we truly value LIFE, we need to use all tools available to help save lives.

When you encounter people who have questions, doubts, and misconceptions about the vaccine, share with them in a very kind way the following facts to help them make informed decisions that will save lives.

Sharing this information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other sources. Bust myths and learn the facts:

Can receiving a COVID-19 vaccine cause you to be magnetic?

No. Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.

Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?

Yes. If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to you. There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that female or male fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.

Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine cause me to test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No. None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive on viral tests, which are used to see if you have a current infection. If your body develops an immune response to vaccination, which is the goal, you may test positive on some antibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had a previous infection and that you may have some level of protection against the virus.

Can COVID-19 vaccine make me sick of COVID-19?

No. None of the authorized COVID-19 vaccines in the United States contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. This means that a COVID-19 vaccine cannot make you sick with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are signs that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Can being near someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine affect my menstrual cycle?

No. Your menstrual cycle cannot be affected by being near someone who received a COVID-19 vaccine. Many things can affect menstrual cycles, including stress, changes in your schedule, problems with sleep, and changes in diet or exercise. Infections may also affect menstrual cycles.

OTHER MYTHS vs FACTS collated by CNN and Reuters:

‘We don’t know what the long-term side effects are’

Any adverse side effects from vaccines almost always “show up within the first two weeks, and certainly by the first two months. That’s why he and many other health experts asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to wait at least two months after trial participants had been inoculated before considering whether to give emergency authorization to COVID-19 vaccines.

The most serious vaccine side effects in history have all been caught within six weeks. There may be very rare side effects that aren’t immediately found in clinical trials. But that’s due to the extreme rarity of those side effects—”not because it’s a long-term problem.

And because coronavirus is highly contagious—killing more than half a million Americans and leaving many survivors with long-term complications—you’re much better off getting the vaccine.

‘I’ve already had COVID-19, so I don’t need to be vaccinated’

Even if you’ve had coronavirus, you should still get vaccinated because the immunity you get from vaccination will likely be longer or stronger than the immunity you got after getting infected, health experts say.

‘I’m young and healthy, so I don’t need to get vaccinated’

Young people can get long-term COVID-19 complications. Young, healthy people have turned into COVID-19 “long-haulers,” suffering chronic fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath and brain fog months after their infection.

Young people can be easy transmitters of coronavirus. There have been multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at youth summer camps. And with the more contagious Delta variant spreading, hospitals in less-vaccinated states are seeing more children and teens hospitalized with COVID-19.

Young adults can be victims of their strong immune systems. Doctors have noticed some young, previously healthy patients suffer from COVID-19 cytokine storms. That’s basically when someone’s immune system overreacts—potentially causing severe inflammation or other serious symptoms.

‘These vaccines only have emergency use authorization (EUA), not full FDA approval’
Because not enough time has passed to show how long the vaccines stay effective. The only real difference was in length of follow-up. Typically, you like to see efficacy for a year or two years. But with COVID-19 vaccines, you couldn’t do that. You couldn’t do a one- or two- or three-year study … because the virus was killing hundreds of thousands of people. The vaccines’ EUA status doesn’t mean they’re less safe. As a member of the FDA vaccine advisory committee, Offit said the vaccines are reviewed with the same level of scrutiny as they would to get full approval.

‘My faith will protect me, so I don’t need to get vaccinated’

Among religious groups in the U.S., “white evangelical Protestants stand out as the most likely to say they will refuse to get vaccinated (26%), with an additional 28% who are hesitant,” according to a study this spring by the Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core. Some experts say anti-COVID-19 vaccine sentiment among evangelicals is fueled by distrust in government, ignorance about how vaccines work and misinformation.

“If you believe that God created us in his image, including being able to think and reason, we’ve been able to think and reason a lot of these diseases away” thanks to vaccination, Offit said. “We don’t die from smallpox anymore. Children aren’t permanently paralyzed by polio anymore in the United States. It’s a good thing. That’s because God gave us a brain to think and reason with. So use it.”

Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain a tracking microchip that will be injected into the individuals? (Reuters)

No. RFID microchips will not be injected with the COVID-19 vaccine, altered video features Bill and Melinda Gates and Jack Ma. Verdict by Reuters Fact Check: Altered. COVID-19 vaccine syringes could contain RFID microchips on labels, but they wouldn’t be ‘injected’ into the individual that receives the vaccine. A video containing this claim features altered and out-of-context footage.

Does COVID-19 vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson contain aborted fetal DNA as an ingredient? (Reuters)

Reuters Fact Checked: This claim is false. The ingredients of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine can be seen in a fact sheet by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) here. These are: recombinant, replication-incompetent adenovirus type 26 expressing the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, citric acid monohydrate, trisodium citrate dihydrate, ethanol, 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HBCD), polysorbate-80, sodium chloride. While the vaccine used lab-replicated fetal cells (known as fetal cell lines) during its production process, the vaccine itself does not contain any fetal cells.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at [email protected], or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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