#IGOTVACCINATED

COMMON 
QUESTIONS & MISCONCEPTIONS

 

Should I get vaccinated if I want to become pregnant, am currently pregnant, or am breastfeeding?


If you are worried about the impact of the COVID-19 on your fertility or pregnancy, we are here to help! We understand that if you are pregnant, you want to make the best decision for your health and the health of your baby. We hope the information outlined here can help you make an informed decision. There is a ton of misinformation spreading that the antibodies made by your body after the COVID-19 vaccine can attack the reproductive system or the placenta. These antibodies are made to attack the COVID-19 virus, should you become infected, and will not accidentally attack cells of your own reproductive system or placenta. In other words, your antibodies can tell the difference between the COVID-19 virus and reproductive/placental cells. There is no evidence to suggest that antibodies produced after receiving any of the COVID-19 vaccines can harm fertility and/or pregnancy outcomes. While the COVID-19 vaccine trials did not enroll pregnant or breastfeeding people, some participants did become pregnant through the course of the trial. While participants were asked to refrain from pregnancy, It was found that individuals in both the vaccinated group and the placebo group had similar rates of accidental pregnancies. This also suggests that the vaccine has no impact on fertility. Currently, there are multiple vaccination surveillance programs being used to monitor adverse outcomes in the thousands of pregnant people who have since gotten the vaccine. So far, there is no significant difference between adverse outcomes in pregnant women vs non-pregnant women. These results suggest that the vaccine does not affect pregnant women any differently than the general population. Another factor to consider is the effect of COVID-19 infection on your health. Pregnant people are considered a high-risk population for COVID-19 infection. Compared to people who are not pregnant, pregnant people are more likely to be hospitalized and experience more severe illness if infected. Pregnant people infected with COVID-19 may also have a higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, compared to those who are not infected. Vaccination against COVID-19 is known to protect against hospitalization and other severe outcomes, therefore reducing the risk of these negative effects on you and your baby. If you are currently breastfeeding, you may also consider getting the vaccine. Based on how the vaccine works, there is no reason to believe that the vaccination will pose a risk to the lactating person or the breastfeeding baby. Recent reports have shown that the antibodies produced by the body after vaccination are present in breast milk, however, we do not yet know if this confers protection against COVID-19 to the breastfeeding baby.




Is the vaccine going to mess up my menstrual cycle?


Great question! While there is no definitive evidence that tells us that the vaccine messes with menstrual cycles, research also indicates that menstrual cycles are sensitive to lifestyle changes and stress. Immune responses to the COVID-19 vaccine may stimulate earlier or later periods, or heavier bleeding. However, these changes are not likely to cause any long-term harm.





 

Will taking supplements protect me from COVID-19?


Supplements like vitamin D, vitamin C, and zinc are not sufficient to prevent COVID-19 infection or severe disease, if infected. Some observational studies show that lower vitamin levels in the blood is associated with higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19. However, these observational trials cannot prove that vitamins cause a lower risk of COVID-19 infection. The only types of studies that can determine cause are clinical trials. The COVID-19 vaccines underwent numerous clinical trials which proved that the vaccines cause protection from COVID-19. A clinical trial where COVID-19 patients were given zinc, vitamin C, both, or none, found no differences between groups in severity of symptoms or recovery time. You can take these supplements for general health and as complementary to the COVID-19 vaccine, but you should still get the COVID-19 vaccine.




Can I use at-home remedies to prevent or treat COVID-19?


Traditional, herbal, and homeopathic remedies alone are not proven to prevent or treat COVID-19 infection. While these ancestral forms of healing are valuable, they should be used as complementary to the COVID-19 vaccine and not as a replacement for the vaccine. COVID-19 vaccination is the most effective, rigorously studied preventative to COVID-19 infection and severe disease.




Can I take antibiotics to treat COVID-19?


No, antibiotics cannot treat COVID-19. While antibiotics are effective against bacterial conditions (like strep throat), they are not effective against viral diseases like COVID-19. Bacterial infections and viral infections attack the body in different ways, therefore they need different treatments. Antibiotics can be a great treatment for bacterial infections, but are not effective against viral infections such as the common cold and COVID-19. Antibiotics may be prescribed in hospitalized COVID-19 patients but this is only done if the patient has also developed a bacterial infection. It is never recommended that you attempt to self-medicate, please consult your healthcare provider before taking any medications.




Does drinking disinfectant or bleach prevent or treat COVID-19?


Ingesting disinfectant or bleach does not prevent or treat COVID-19. While these cleaning products can kill germs (like the COVID-19 virus) on surfaces, drinking bleach can lead to severe health consequences such as burning of the throat and destruction of digestive organs. Do not wash produce or other eatables with disinfectant or bleach.




Can I take medication to help manage the side-effects of the COVID-19 vaccines?


After receiving your vaccine you may experience side effects. This is a sign that your body’s immune system is hard at work learning how to protect you from the COVID-19 virus. That being said, not feeling your best can feel really frustrating!
Luckily, it is safe to take over-the-counter pain relief medications, like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen), after receiving your vaccine to help manage these side effects. In clinical trials for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, participants were allowed to take these medications as needed. In these studies, both vaccines still had high efficacy rates at 95% for Pfizer-BioNTech and 94.1% for Moderna. You may wonder if you can take these medications before getting the vaccine to prevent side effects; but, doctors recommend against this approach. Studies done on other vaccines in the past have shown that fever-reducing medications can impact the immune system’s response to a vaccine. We do not yet know if taking these medications before the COVID-19 vaccine could impact its ability to protect you. For now, it is recommended to wait until the onset of side effects before taking these medications. If you are unable to take these medications, there are other ways you can manage potential side effects. Applying a cool compress to the site of injection can help to reduce swelling. Light exercise or stretching of the arm can also help to increase blood flow and reduce arm pain. Finally, drinking plenty of fluids and getting lots of rest will help your body recover faster so you can get back to feeling your best. Taking pain relieving medications can help manage vaccine-related side effects; however, it is best to hold off on taking these medications until the onset of side effects. Before taking any medication, it is important to talk to your doctor to make sure they are right for you!





 

Do I need the vaccine if I already had COVID-19?


Yes, you still need to get vaccinated. Being infected with COVID-19 does generate some antibodies that will fight off the virus if you are re-exposed, However, these naturally-generated antibodies are limited. Firstly, they may be specific to the variant of COVID-19 you were infected with. That means that you may not be protected against the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or any other variants of concern. The vaccines provide good protection against variants which you can read more about more below. Additionally, antibody levels produced from fighting COVID-19 can vary from person to person. That means that you may make less antibodies and have less ability to fight a second infection. The vaccines produce high antibody levels that ensure your immune system is able to fight another encounter with the virus. So far, the science says that people who have gotten COVID-19 should still get vaccinated.




Do I need the vaccine if I am “low-risk”?


Yes, you still need to get vaccinated. If you are young and healthy or if you live alone, you may be tempted to skip the vaccine because you are “low-risk.” Low-risk means you are less likely to be exposed to the virus, and/or you are less likely to get severe symptoms and need hospitalization if infected. Even if you live alone, you can be exposed to the virus during essential trips such as going to the dentist or getting groceries. Getting the vaccine will protect you from severe effects of COVID-19 while you are out and about. There have also been many reports of young people getting severe COVID-19 symptoms and needing hospitalization.
Therefore it is recommended that all people over 12 get vaccinated. Low-risk does not mean no-risk! Additionally, even if you are low-risk, it is still possible for you to contract COVID-19 and spread it to others in your community, including those who may be higher risk. You can spread the disease even if you have no symptoms.




Do I need the vaccine if we have reached herd immunity?


Yes, you still need to get vaccinated. We have not yet reached herd immunity from COVID-19. Each additional person getting vaccinated brings us closer to this goal. Herd immunity is important for those who cannot get the vaccine, such as children under 12, newborns and immunocompromised people. Herd immunity decreases your chance of being exposed to the virus because the virus is not spreading as much in the community. However, it does not protect you from infection (and severe symptoms and hospitalization) if you are exposed. Vaccination can protect you from infection and severe COVID-19 disease even if you are exposed to the virus.




Why do I need two doses?


Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are all two dose vaccines. One dose does provide some protection against the COVID-19 virus but both doses are needed for the greatest protection against all the existing COVID-19 variants. The first dose teaches your body to produce antibodies which will recognize and fight the virus. The second dose makes your immune system produce even more antibodies, so you are more fully protected. These antibodies will fight off the virus if it appears in the body again. Becoming fully vaccinated will give you the greatest protection from COVID-19 and its variants. It is essential to get two doses if you got the Pfizer, Moderna or Astrazeneca vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is also approved in Canada, only requires one dose.




How long does it take for immunity to be built up in your body post your second dose?


Training your body's immune system takes time! It takes two weeks after getting your final dose of the vaccine for your body to build up immunity. At this point you are considered fully vaccinated! In order to understand why, let's take a quick look at how the vaccines work. To date, Health Canada has approved four vaccines that protect against the COVID-19 virus. These include two mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna), and two viral vector vaccines (Astrazeneca, Johnson & Johnson). Let’s start off with the mRNA vaccines. mRNA are molecules that instruct your body how to build proteins. The mRNA vaccines contain mRNA which tell your cells how to make the spike protein that is unique to the COVID-19 virus. This protein is harmless to you, but it will activate your immune system! This prompts the immune system to make antibodies. Antibodies are a type of protein that will help identify and fight the COVID-19 virus if it ever appears. There are also non-replicating viral vector vaccines (NRVV). Just like the mRNA vaccines, NRVV vaccines teach your immune system to identify the COVID-19 virus. The viral vector is a harmless virus (not the COVID-19 virus) which cannot make copies of itself in your body. The viral vector contains the instructions to make the COVID-19 spike protein. After this, the process is the same as the mRNA vaccines. Your body will produce the spike protein and get rid of the vector. You will then make the antibodies which will recognize the spike protein and fight the virus if it appears again. Antibody production takes time. No matter which vaccine you get, it takes about two weeks for your body to make all the antibodies that will keep you protected. In the meantime, it is a great idea to continue to wear a mask and social distance to keep yourself and those around you safe!




Do the COVID-19 vaccines work against the variants?


Viruses can create different versions of themselves called variants. Variants happen randomly when the virus makes mistakes when replicating itself. The more people that are infected with COVID-19, the more the virus can replicate itself. This increases the chances of variants forming. Occasionally, really infectious variants are created. These are called “variants of concern.” The most concerning one in Ontario currently is the Delta variant. Early studies have shown that two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have an efficacy of about 88% against this variant. This is slightly lower than their efficacy against the original form of the virus which was about 95%. Two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine is about 60% effective against the Delta variant. One of the best ways to stop the creation and spread of new variants is to get vaccinated. Variants can only form and spread in people who are infected with the virus, which is much less likely to happen if you are vaccinated. We can further prevent the spread by continuing to wear our masks and practice social distancing.





 

Are mRNA vaccines too new?


mRNA vaccines aren’t as new as you might think. Actually, mRNA vaccines have been researched for the past 30 years as a safe, new tool to develop immunity and fight cancer. The mRNA vaccines contain two important ingredients: mRNA and lipid nanoparticles. mRNA itself is a molecule that is found naturally in every person. mRNA is the instructions our body needs to build proteins. In 2005, a breakthrough study was published on how to safely deliver mRNA into cells using lipid nanomolecules. These lipid nanomolecules are tiny fat droplets that protect the mRNA from being destroyed before it reaches our cells. mRNA vaccines have been tested for coronaviruses (like COVID-19) since the early 2010s. Studies have also consistently highlighted the safety of mRNA vaccines.

In 2018, Nature, a reputable Science journal, had reviewed dozens of studies on mRNA vaccines and concluded their future was “extremely bright”. By the time COVID-19 vaccine development had begun, the researchers at Moderna were already developing an mRNA vaccine for Zika and influenza. We may very well see many mRNA vaccines in the future for a variety of illnesses.




Do vaccines cause magnetism?


The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain magnets and they cannot cause magnetism. Some people have claimed on social media that the contents of the vaccine made them magnetic. Videos of coins, spoons, and other metallic objects sticking to people who got the vaccine have gone viral. However, this has nothing to do with magnetism or the vaccine at all. It is the sweat, oils, and moisture on your skin that allows coins and other objects to stick. This is similar to how you can stick spoons to your nose or stick a playing card to your forehead. The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain magnets. None of the ingredients in the approved vaccines can cause magnetism.




Is the vaccine a tracking device?


No, the COVID-19 vaccine is not a tracking device. There are no overlapping ingredients between the COVID-19 vaccines and tracking devices. Tracking devices need hardware and a battery life to work. These parts of a tracking device are impossible to put into a vaccine. In fact, many of the ingredients of the vaccines are found in the foods we eat, such as sucrose (fruits and vegetables), sodium chloride (salt), and cholesterol (meat, eggs). The vaccines are safe and effective at preventing COVID-19. They are in no way electronic and do not contain electronic or magnetic parts. Getting vaccinated will help us get back to our normal lives in a safe and healthy manner.




Is it safe to mix the COVID-19 vaccines?


It is safe to mix the COVID-19 vaccinesas recommended by public health guidelines. Mixing vaccines is not a new idea. It has been done in the past with Ebola, flu shots, and hepatitis vaccines. Mixing Astrazeneca with mRNA New evidence suggests mixing Astrazeneca with an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna) is highly effective and safe. There is also no known risk of blood clots with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. If you got Astrazeneca as your first dose, it is recommended you get either Pfizer or Moderna as your second dose. However, you can also get a second dose of Astrazeneca if you had no severe issues with your first dose. Once you have two doses, you are fully vaccinated and have the greatest protection against COVID-19. Mixing mRNA with mRNA The mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) can also be mixed because they are so similar. Vaccines from different companies can be mixed when they:

  • Have the same purpose
  • Are used in the same populations
  • Work in the same way
  • Are equally safe
  • Are equally effective
Looking at all these characteristics, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are pretty much the same. This means that if you got Pfizer as your first shot, you can get Moderna as your second. If you got Moderna first, you can get Pfizer second. The most important thing is to get the first vaccine available to you!




Was the vaccine developed and approved too quickly?


All of the COVID-19 vaccines have undergone the same review and approval processes as other drugs and vaccines approved in Canada. This review process ensures that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe to give to the public. The COVID-19 vaccines went through the following steps in order to be approved:

  • Exploratory: The vaccine was developed using existing technology that has been in development for the treatment of other similar viruses.
  • Preclinical: The vaccine was tested on cells and animals to collect initial information on whether it was safe and effective to move forward to humans.
  • Clinical Trials: These trials compared vaccinated and unvaccinated groups to answer questions about the efficacy* and safety of the vaccine.
  • Phase I: The vaccine was tested in small groups (tens of people) to determine a safe dosage level, side effects, and whether there were any major safety concerns.
  • Phase II: The vaccine was tested in larger groups (hundreds of people) to identify how well it works, the optimal dose, and to confirm if it is safe.
  • Phase III: The vaccine was tested in even larger groups (thousands of people) to determine the vaccine’s efficacy* in preventing disease and to identify any other side effects.
  • Approval: After all the trials had well-documented data, an application was sent to Health Canada for an independent review. A separate group of health experts reviewed all of the clinical trials to make sure they used proper methods and reported data correctly. This is the highest standard of review required to approve the vaccine to be administered to the public.
  • Continued Monitoring (Phase IV): Health Canada regularly monitors information about approved vaccines. This stage consists of safety monitoring, examining vaccine effectiveness within specific subgroups, and studying the duration of immunity.
While clinical trials and approval processes can take years, COVID-19 vaccines received a tremendous amount of support from governments, research organizations, and scientists around the world. Many research organizations shifted to working solely on the COVID-19 vaccines. This amount of funding and collective effort allowed us to reach our goal of developing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines more quickly.

* Efficacy is the degree to which a vaccine prevents disease under ideal and controlled environments like a clinical trial. Effectiveness refers to how well the vaccine works in the real world





Educate your friends and family with these easily shareable resources and help inform them on the power and efficacy of vaccines.

 

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