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VERIFY: Separating fact and fiction about vaccines and COVID-19

World-renowned expert Dr. Peter Hotez debunks vaccine myths as polling suggests half of Americans would not get a COVID-19 vaccine if and when available.

HOUSTON — There's growing optimism a coronavirus vaccine could be developed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2020 or early 2021. But recent polling shows only half of Americans would be willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine if and when it's available. 

Experts say those polls are due to very active vaccine misinformation campaigns across the country especially here in Texas. 

Below are series of claims we Verified with our source infectious disease and vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez at Baylor College of Medicine.

Claim 1: As soon as a vaccine is developed and distributed the pandemic ends? 

"That's false, definitely not true," said Hotez. "It will take time to roll it out and some will work better than others, some may reduce severity of illness instead of preventing infection."

Claim 2: Immunity via vaccine is better than natural immunity? 

"It is unknown," said Hotez. "We don't know or fully understand the type of immunity that will come from the actual virus infection. We think it will cause long lasting immunity, but there may be instances where it doesn't."

Claim 3: The coronavirus vaccine will be a way to track the public? 

"That's false," said Hotez. "There's no truth to that. There's this crazy conspiracy theory on the Internet that me or Bill Gates are using the vaccine to plant tracking chips in people, and it's an outlandish conspiracy."

Claim 4: There is no need for vaccination since we live in a county where all these preventable diseases are prevalent in the U.S.?

"That's false," said Hotez. "These diseases can come back just like we had terrible measles epidemics last year. It was our worst year since the year 2000."

Claim 5: Vaccines are not 100 percent effective? 

"That's true," said Hotez. "Most are not 100 percent effective, but they're pretty good. So for instance one of the best vaccines we have is the measles vaccine. Two doses of the measles vaccine is 97% effective."

Claim 6: Vaccines cause infections?

"That's false," said Hotez. "Vaccines are designed to prevent the infection. There's no evidence that it causes the infection."

Claim 7: Vaccines cause autism? 

"All of that is proven to be false," said Hotez. "There's no link. We know what causes autism, there's at least 105 genes involved in early fetal brain development."

Claim 8: A person is immune to the virus right after vaccination? 

"That's false," said Hotez. "It usually takes a week or two to develop an immune response."

Claim 9: Vaccines are safe and effective? 

"That's true," said Hotez. "Any vaccine licensed by the FDA has to be proven to work and it has to be proven to be safe."