8 myths about vaccinations and why they aren’t true

August 18, 2021

There was a lot of untrue information being shared about vaccinations before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Now there is even more misinformation. Myths are beliefs that are not true. Here are some of the most popular myths about vaccines and the truth about them.

MYTH: It’s OK to delay routine vaccinations for my baby until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

FACT: No. Don’t delay getting your baby vaccinated due to the coronavirus pandemic. Any time you delay a vaccine, you leave your baby open to catching a disease and the possibility of getting seriously sick.

In the first 2 years of life, your baby needs several vaccinations—several shots—to help protect them from diseases. It’s important to start each vaccination series on time to protect your baby as soon as possible. And for the best protection, your baby should receive all doses of a vaccine. However, if your baby is behind on their vaccinations, your health care provider can help you get caught up.

MYTH: It’s not worth getting the COVID-19 vaccine because I may still get the virus.

FACT: It’s true that some people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will still get sick with the virus. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but vaccinations have protected us from serious diseases for decades. Studies show that the mRNA vaccines are 94 percent effective in reducing the risk of getting sick with COVID-19 after two doses (full vaccination). In rare cases when people who are fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine get COVID-19, they may have a milder, shorter illness or even no symptoms.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is an important step in helping stop the pandemic. It helps protect people from getting sick or severely ill with the coronavirus. And, recent studies show that some COVID-19 vaccines help keep people from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to other people.

MYTH: The COVID-19 vaccine will change my DNA.

FACT: No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or affect your DNA in any way. Our DNA carries the information about how we look and how our body works and develops. Some COVID-19 vaccines send instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start protecting us from the virus that causes COVID-19. However, that genetic material never enters the center of the cell, which is where our DNA is.

MYTH: It’s not safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you want to have a baby.

FACT: It’s safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant later, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of now, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines make it harder to get pregnant or make men or women unable to get pregnant (infertile). Despite what you may have seen on social media, there also is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines can affect how the placenta grows during pregnancy. There’s no need to delay pregnancy after getting the vaccine.

If you choose not to get vaccinated,  getting COVID-19 while you are pregnant could cause serious health issues for you and your baby.

MYTH: Vaccines can cause autism.

FACT: No, vaccinations don’t cause autism spectrum disorder (also called ASD). Parents of children with autism may notice the first signs and symptoms of the disorder around the same time their babies get vaccines, but scientists and medical experts say this is just a coincidence. Some people have suggested that a material called thimerosal in vaccines given to infants and young children might be linked with autism. Others have suggested that the MMR (stands for measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine may cause autism. However, many research studies conclude that there is no connection between vaccines and autism.

MYTH: A baby’s immune system can’t handle too many vaccines at the same time.

FACT: During a well-baby visit, your baby may get more than one vaccination. However, these vaccines won’t overload your baby’s immune system. Vaccines cause the body’s immune system to build antibodies. Antibodies are cells in the body that fight off infection. Vaccines teach our immune systems how to fight a disease, even in babies. The CDC has done a lot of research to make sure vaccination schedules are safe for children.

MYTH: It’s better to wait until after pregnancy to get vaccinated.

FACT: The CDC recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy: the flu shot (if you weren’t vaccinated before pregnancy) and the Tdap (stands for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine. Getting the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy helps protect your baby from pertussis in the first few months of life. Your provider may recommend that you get other vaccinations during your pregnancy.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women also may choose to get the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM). Research has shown that the mRNA vaccines are safe and effective in pregnant people. As of now, there’s no evidence that the antibodies your body makes after getting the COVID-19 vaccine can cause any problem with pregnancy.

Recent research has shown that pregnant women who get the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in the third trimester of pregnancy can pass protective COVID-19 antibodies to their babies. Studies also have shown that the breast milk of people who get the vaccine may contain COVID-19 antibodies.

MYTH: The flu shot can give you the flu.

FACT: Not true. The flu shot contains a vaccine that helps prevent you from getting the flu. But the flu shot can’t cause the flu. It’s safe to get a flu shot any time during pregnancy, but it’s best to get it before flu season, which typically starts in October.

Talk to your health care provider about any questions you have about vaccines.