Understanding the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters: Myths vs. facts

In an age where information can be found in numerous places — with varying degrees of credibility — you may stumble across some myths circulating about COVID-19 vaccines. Relying on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal health resources is a good way to help you get accurate information. With that in mind, here are some common misconceptions that may be floating around about the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters – plus the facts behind them.

Myth: Vaccines don’t actually work.

Fact: Currently, the COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved or authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are safe and effective, per the CDC, at preventing COVID-19. Large-scale clinical trials were conducted to determine each vaccine’s efficacy.

Based on those trials, the vaccines were also found to be effective at preventing serious complications and severe cases of COVID-19. The CDC recommends everyone 5 years and up receive their primary vaccination series — and a booster or two, when eligible and recommended.

Myth: I already got two doses of the vaccine, and that is enough. I don’t need any boosters.

Fact: Fully vaccinated is not the same as optimally protected. Boosters can help provide that extra level of protection from mild diseases and most importantly protect from progressing to severe disease or hospitalization, particularly if you have high-risk factors. The boosters use the same ingredients as the current COVID-19 vaccine, but in some cases are at half the dosage. Public health experts say even though the vaccines are working, protection against the virus may decrease sooner over time, especially in those 65 and older, as well as those who may have impaired immunity such as those on certain medications or with certain conditions. Clinical trials show a booster shot can help prevent severe illness.  

Myth: The side effects are bad, especially for the first shot.

Fact: As with all vaccines, some people may report side effects. However, the most common side effect for the COVID-19 vaccines is soreness at the injection site that typically goes away in a day or two. The same side effects are true for any booster shots, as well. Some have reported mild flu-like symptoms that typically go away in a few days. Others report no side effects at all.

Adverse side effects continue to be extremely rare. The safety of the COVID-19 vaccines is a top priority, and the CDC takes all reports of safety concerns seriously. Both the FDA and CDC are constantly analyzing vaccination data to help ensure the safety of those receiving the vaccine. If you have any concerns about potential side effects, you should speak to your primary care provider.

Myth: The vaccine might actually give an inoculated person COVID-19.

Fact: Because the FDA-authorized vaccines do not include live COVID-19 viruses, the CDC states that you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine.

If you’re not sure whether the COVID-19 vaccine or a booster shot is right for you depending on your individual health circumstances, be sure to contact your health care provider. There are no bad questions when it comes to a conversation between you and your provider.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit uhc.com.