FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2021
Heather Thomas, 425.508.4980
Nine Facts About the COVID-19 Vaccines
Information and resources to help tell fact from fiction
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – There’s a lot of COVID-19 vaccine information out there, and it can feel overwhelming sorting through it all. Sometimes, it’s even hard to tell what’s true and what’s not.
The Snohomish Health District has gathered some common questions or topics, along with information to help you make an informed decision about getting the vaccine. As always, we encourage you to talk to your health care provider if there are more questions. They can help you decide what is best based on your individual health needs and preferences.
- Vaccines weren’t rushed. There has been some concern about the timeline of COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines weren’t rushed—they just didn’t have to start from scratch. Scientists were able to use research done on other Coronavirus-caused illnesses, specifically SARS (discovered in 2002) and MERS (discovered in 2012). This previous research gave vaccine developers a head start on COVID-19 vaccine development while still adhering to all safety measures and regulations. Patent filings for the technology in this COVID-19 vaccine occurred 10 years prior to regulatory authorization. Furthermore, the development timelines for innovative vaccines have been shortening since the 1980s and the COVID-19 vaccine comfortably fits within this pattern.
- Even if you’ve already had COVID, you should still get vaccinated. We don’t yet have enough information to say how long the natural immunity your body builds from having the infection lasts. We do know it is possible to become sick more than once with COVID. The vaccine still offers protection to someone who has already experienced COVID. It is not dangerous for someone who had COVID to get vaccinated. If you recently tested positive for COVID or are feeling ill, please consult with your medical provider before getting vaccinated. You should wait until you are past the isolation period before you get vaccinated.
- The COVID vaccine does not alter your DNA. In fact, the vaccine doesn’t interact with your DNA at all. The vaccines that have been authorized for use include a snippet of genetic code for only a portion of the virus (the spike proteins). Our cells use that code to make a protein from the virus’ surface that then becomes the target of an immune reaction. That reaction is our defense against COVID. That snippet of code never enters the nucleus of any of our cells, where our own genetic code is kept. Our cells break down and get rid of the piece of code from the vaccine as soon as they finish using the instructions. Those instructions from the vaccine amp up our body’s existing, natural defense system and train it to fight back against COVID.
- COVID-19 vaccines and “shedding.” The COVID-19 vaccines do not cause people to “shed” the virus after being vaccinated. None of the vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States contain the actual virus that causes COVID. Instead, the vaccines have snippets of instructions from the virus’s genetic code for its spike protein (the protrusions seen in images of the virus). Being exposed to this code trains the body to recognize and mount a defense against the actual virus. Being near someone who has been vaccinated does not pose any risk to women of miscarriage or disruption in menstrual cycles. Even women who actually get the vaccine are not at any increased risk of miscarriage or fertility problems. While the COVID-19 virus can be passed easily between people, ingredients in the vaccine cannot. The vaccines are tools to protect yourself and others around you.
- COVID-19 vaccines and fertility. There is no evidence to suggest that getting vaccinated against COVID could harm a woman’s ability to get pregnant or harm an unborn child if the woman is currently pregnant. According to a recent study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, COVID-fighting antibodies were found in 99% of umbilical cord blood samples from fully vaccinated women and 44% of umbilical cord blood samples from women who had received a single dose of mRNA vaccine. This means that the mother’s antibodies to the virus are being passed to the baby to provide protection during pregnancy and for a few months after birth. Furthermore, a joint statement from American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine earlier this year said that “no loss of fertility has been reported among trial participants or among the millions who have received the vaccines since their authorization.” COVID vaccination is a choice, and any woman who is worried for her health or her baby’s health should talk to a professional healthcare provider about those concerns.
- COVID vaccines don’t give you COVID. The vaccines don’t contain the virus itself, so you cannot catch the virus from the vaccine. It is normal to experience side effects that might seem like illness – mild fever, chills, achiness, fatigue. These are signs that your body’s immune system is responding to the vaccine and getting ready to fend off the virus if you’re exposed to the real thing. No vaccine is 100% effective, so it is possible to get sick even if you are fully vaccinated, but such “breakthrough” infections that occur after being fully vaccinated are very rare. The important thing is that you are much less likely to get sick and your odds of going to the hospital or dying from COVID are drastically reduced if you are vaccinated. In a study released in April, the CDC looked at the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines in the real world for healthcare, first responders and essential workers. Those who were fully vaccinated were 90% less likely to get infected. Protection against hospitalization and death is even higher.
- The COVID-19 vaccines do not cause you to become magnetic. None of the vaccines contain ingredients that would cause the injection site, or any other part of your body, to become magnetic. There are no metals such as iron, nickel, cobalt, or lithium in the vaccines, and there are no electrodes, microelectrodes, computer chips or other such manufactured products capable of contributing to a magnetic reaction. The vaccine doses are also too small (less than a milliliter) for metals or magnets to be attracted to the injection site even if there were such ingredients. The ingredients in the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are safe to be injected into the human body. Along with the active ingredient of messenger RNA (mRNA) or inactivated adenovirus, they contain other common ingredients like fat, salts and sugars that protect the active ingredient, help the vaccines to work better in the body, and protect the vaccine during storage.
- Children are not being forced to get vaccinated, and the vaccines are safe for adolescents. Children ages 12 and older can be vaccinated against COVID under the current authorization for the Pfizer vaccine, and we know multiple vaccines are moving forward on trials and applications to gain authorization for younger ages, as well. Prior to use of the vaccine in younger age groups, trials and extensive review is done at multiple levels (federal, regional and state). Safety remains the priority. While vaccination is strongly encouraged, there is no mandate that everyone must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccinating yourself or your children is a choice, like with other medical and preventive care. At the COVID-19 vaccination sites and community clinics with which Snohomish County and the Snohomish Health District have been involved, an adult parent or guardian must accompany those under the age of 18 and provide consent for the vaccination. With few exceptions (such as an emancipated minor), adolescents are unable to be vaccinated at these community clinics without the consent of their parent or guardian.
- VAERS is an important tool, not a resource for medical advice or cause-and-effect data about vaccination. Unfortunately, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports can be misrepresented to portray vaccines as dangerous or being linked to far more incidents than ones that can be verified. It’s important to understand what VAERS is, what it isn’t, and keep the information in context. VAERS allows anyone to report any adverse event that occurs following a vaccination, COVID or otherwise. Then CDC reviews the report, may request additional information from the reporter, and makes a determination. However, submissions can include concerns that may or may not actually be linked to vaccination, and the system is not set up to identify whether the vaccine caused the reported side effect. If there are signals in VAERS of a potential concern or known reactions happening more frequently than expected, it sparks separate review by experts. We saw that process play out earlier this year when there was a temporary pause, review, and then recommendation to resume use of the J&J vaccine. Reports in VAERS “may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable,” according to the CDC.
We know there are lots of myths and misinformation going around about COVID-19 and vaccines. For more credible information, check out Washington State Department of Health (DOH) series “Just the Facts” or CDC’s “Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines.”
The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free — no insurance required. To find out where to get your shot, visit www.snohd.org/covidvaccine or call 425-339-5278.
Washington Moves Closer to Reopening Goal
The DOH reported that the state continues to make progress with COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration efforts. Washington is getting closer to its 70% initiation goal. Combining data from the Washington State Immunization Information System (IIS) with aggregate data from the Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA), 67.81% of people 16 and older have initiated vaccination across the state.
To reopen before June 30, at least 70% of people 16 and older need to receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. As DOH has shared, there are differences between vaccination data displayed in the state’s data dashboard compared to vaccination data in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) COVID Data Tracker. The state’s data dashboard represents the most accurate information the department has control over. There are a few reasons for the differences:
- The state dashboard reports on people 16 and older, whereas the federal government reports on people 18 and up.
- DOH uses 2020 population estimates from the Office of Financial Management, the federal government uses 2019 census data.
- DOH is including 174,450 Department of Defense staff (DoD) and Veterans Administration (VA) patients who have initiated vaccination to the current statewide total. The federal government gets data from DoD, VA, Bureau of Prisons, and potentially a few other sources DOH does not have access to.
This information can be found on the DOH data dashboard, which is updated three times per week.
Four Things to Keep the Forward Momentum
Case rates have been declining in Snohomish County, this week reaching fewer than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population for the first time in two and a half months. In fact, we’re at the lowest case rate since October 2020 – that was nearly eight months ago.
Restrictions are lifting or are expected to lift soon. More activities and businesses are opening or expanding. Vaccinations have been steadily progressing and we are seeing the results as spread of the virus slows and life begins to look more like what we were accustomed to before the pandemic began.
These changes have many people looking to the future with anticipation. It’s exciting, but we also want to make sure we’re taking our next steps with respect, compassion and some caution.
The reality is that COVID is not gone and will continue to impact our lives, at least to some degree. That doesn’t mean we can’t get back to more of our normal activities, but it does mean that we need to be mindful as we do so to keep our community as safe as possible.
Read more in the latest blog: Four things we can all do to keep our forward momentum.
COVID Testing Schedule
The schedule for the week of June 21 will remain as follows:
- Everett site located at 3715 Oakes Avenue – Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Lynnwood Food Bank site at 5320 176th St SW – open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Evergreen State Fairgrounds in the front parking lot off of 179th Ave SE in Monroe – open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Appointments for testing are encouraged, and registration is available at www.snohd.org/testing. Those without internet access or needing language assistance can reach the Health District’s call center at 425.339.5278 to schedule a testing appointment. The call center is staffed 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after hours or on weekends can leave a message, which will be returned on the next business day.