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The Facts About COVID-19 and Vaccines

This information was accurate at the time of publication. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, some information may have changed since the original publication date.

Skepticism and misinformation about coronavirus continues to spread online and on social media. To address some of the myths and misconceptions, top experts in epidemiology, infectious diseases, and obstetrics and gynecology at University of Utah Health provide factual information about COVID-19 and the vaccines.

The Omicron variant is very contagious

  • The Omicron variant is believed to be more transmissible and contagious than previous strains of the virus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2), even in vaccinated individuals.
  • While the Delta variant caused more severe disease and hospitalization, Omicron has caused severe disease especially for people who are immunocompromised.
  • Although COVID-19 is primarily spread among unvaccinated individuals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more cases of breakthrough infections among vaccinated people.

COVID-19 vaccines work against all variants

  • COVID-19 vaccines decrease infection with all variants and are highly effective at reducing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
  • COVID-19 vaccines provide broader protection and prolonged immunity than natural infection of the virus. It is recommended that those previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 get a COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine  for individuals 5 years of age and older. This includes review of more than 340,000 pages of data.
  • Moderna also received full licensure of its COVID-19 vaccine  for individuals 6 months of age and older.
  • The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is available under emergency use authorization (EUA).
  • While mRNA vaccines are a relatively new type of vaccine, they have been under research for more than 20 years. The mRNA vaccine has been shown to be so effective that it provides better protection than antibodies that develop after natural COVID-19 infection.

Vaccine benefits outweigh any potential risks

  • People typically experience relatively minor side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine, such as short-lived fever and fatigue that can be treated with over-the-counter medication.
  • The vaccines do not give you COVID-19.
  • The risk of experiencing a complication from the vaccine is extremely rare. There's a much higher risk of developing severe illness or long-term symptoms from natural infection of COVID-19 than there is of potentially developing serious side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • It's estimated that 10 to 30 percent of people who have had COVID-19 develop long-term symptoms. These include chronic fatigue, brain fog, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, loss of taste and smell, and loss of hair.

COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for children

  • Children as young as 6 months can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • While COVID-19 in kids is not as serious as it is for adults, kids are still at risk of experiencing complications from the virus, such as hospitalization, death, and, more commonly, long COVID. A condition caused by the virus, known as MIS-C, can also develop after infection.
  • COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to protect children from getting the virus and spreading it to other children, family, friends, teachers, and people in the community.
  • The side effects experienced among kids are nearly identical as in adults.

COVID-19 vaccination is safe during pregnancy

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women are recommended to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy and breastfeeding provides protection for both mother and baby. Protective antibodies are passed onto baby via the bloodstream or through breastmilk.
  • COVID-19 vaccines do not cause infertility. According to published research, vaccines do not likely pose a risk for people who are pregnant.
  • Pregnant women do not experience any worse complications or side effects from COVID-19 vaccines than non-pregnant people. However, women are more vulnerable to infections and viruses.
  • According to research conducted by U of U Health, pregnant women with severe COVID-19 are at higher risk of pregnancy complications such as preterm birth, cesarean delivery, and high blood pressure. Therefore, COVID-19 vaccines are recommended during pregnancy.