Staff Ed: Vaccine fears fueled by misinformation



When considering most years that we have lived, this strange period of early 2020 to early 2021 has been objectively bad. The arrival of COVID-19 heralded changes in conduct everywhere from airports to shopping malls to within BSM. Things like capacity limits, physical distancing, and masks slowly transformed from jarring new rules to small inconveniences of life. 

With the approval of vaccines for COVID-19, a possibility arose to get rid of these new inconveniences. Three vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson&Johnson) are making up the majority of inoculations in the United States. Nationwide, about 38% of the population has received both doses of their vaccine.  

In order to reach true immunization, we need to vaccinate 70-85% of the total population. Right now, only about 50% of the population is willing to get the vaccine. That’s mainly because of a wave of vaccine hesitancy and anti-vax sentiments that are sweeping the country. In the US, the anti-vax movement is unnervingly coordinated and organized, with multiple websites and social media pages. 

It is not the place of the Knight Errant to pressure people into vaccination. However, in light of the current situation, we will attempt to assuage some of the concerns that cause anti-vax sentiments. 

A common fear amongst people hesitant to get the vaccine is a worry about side effects or long-term implications. However, most of these worries are based on stories about correlation rather than causation. Many stories circulate about deaths via heart attack shortly after getting vaccinated. These deaths were proven to be unrelated to the vaccine. Most commonly, these deaths are related to normal coronary artery problems that were already detected in the patients before they got the vaccine. That means that although the deaths correlate with vaccinations, they were not caused by the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Conspiracy theories about the vaccine are also rife. One common thread of misinformation is that the vaccines contain microchips. Unfortunately, that technology simply does not exist yet. Even if multiple private companies had wanted to collaborate and chip the vaccines, doing so would be impossible. 

Similarly, the vaccine cannot alter DNA. Although the vaccines do contain mRNA, these messenger proteins do not have the capability to alter DNA structures. The mRNA is entirely disparate from actual genetic code; although it can direct production of antibodies, it cannot in any way amend pre-written DNA. 

The fears and conspiracies that prevent many from getting the vaccine are not founded in truth. Vaccines for COVID-19 do not cause death, they do not contain microchips, and they cannot rewrite your DNA. Instead, when administered to the right percentage of the population, they can provide protection from COVID-19 and usher us back into a world of normalcy.