HOUSTON — The VERIFY Team is working hard to dispel myths and rumors about the COVID-19 vaccine. Lately, there have been a lot of claims about the vaccine's potential side effects. We had Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Senior Scholar and expert in infectious diseases, critical care and emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins, address those concerns.
Claim: Kids can get COVID-19
True: “Children are less susceptible to COVID, less likely to get severe disease, less likely to spread it, but they are not immune to this infection. They can be infected with COVID just like any other human," Adalja said.
Claim: The vaccine does not work as well for kids as it does for adults
False: “If you look at the clinical trial data from Pfizer, where the vaccine has been approved for anybody above the age of 12, the vaccine actually seems to work better in children than it does in adults. If you look at the immunogenicity data, this vaccine is highly effective in children as well as in adults,” Adalja said.
Claim: The vaccine could cause autism
False: “There is no evidence in any vaccine can cause autism. This is a myth that's been propagated and perpetuated for far too long and has caused many people to not become vaccinated and put themselves at risk. There is no link between vaccines and autism,” Adalja said.
Claim: The vaccine could impact fertility later in life
False: “There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines impact fertility. This was a conspiracy theory that ended up on social media and then basically took off without any evidence behind it. It's something that has really dissuaded women of reproductive age from getting vaccinated to their own detriment. I worked in the ER on Monday and I saw two COVID patients, only two, both unvaccinated pregnant women," Adalja said.
Claim: Widespread childhood vaccinations will play a critical part in keeping the virus from causing severe disease in huge parts of our population
True: “The higher the immunity level is in the population, including immunity in children, the better we all will be when it comes to COVID-19 cases and preventing the damage that COVID-19 causes. The more vaccinated our population is, the better it is for everybody," Adalja said.
Claim: It is possible for teens and young adults to develop a heart condition after getting the second dose of the vaccine
Unknown: “There's not enough information to say whether that is true or false right now. What we're investigating currently are some reports, scattered reports of individuals who have gotten what's called myocarditis temporally related to the vaccine, meaning they had the vaccine when they got this. However, the CDC states this isn't higher than the background rate you would expect. So, there's a lot more investigation that needs to be done before we could say that there actually is a link between the vaccine and this heart condition," Adalja said.
Claim: These vaccines have not been tested for safety in children
False: “Both Moderna and Pfizer conducted major clinical trials in which safety was assessed in children and the vaccine was found to be very safe in children. That led to Pfizer getting an emergency use authorization for the age group of 12 to 15.”
Claim: My child cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine
True: “The vaccines cannot give you COVID. They contain basically genetic material for the spike protein of the virus, not the entire virus. You cannot get COVID-19 from any of the vaccines that are approved," Adalja said.
Claim: My child will have to get a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks after the first
True: “The vaccine is based in three-week intervals, so if your child got a single dose three weeks later, the second dose would be necessary to become fully vaccinated,” Adalja said.
Claim: My child can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines in the same office visit
True: “You can get the vaccine and other vaccines at the same time. This is really important because we don't want children to fall behind on their regular routine immunizations.”
Claim: Natural infection is better than immunization
False: “We know that natural infection does provide some level of protection against reinfection and severe disease with infection, but it does not appear to be as robust or as predictable than with vaccines, especially when it comes to certain variants like the Brazilian variant and the South African variant, where reinfection is much more common in people who have had prior infection than in those who have been fully vaccinated,” Adalja said.