COVID-19 Vaccine - Addressing Concerns
Below are frequently asked questions related to addressing concerns on the COVID-19 vaccine. Click on another category to the left to see more FAQs.
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Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology, used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, is new, but not unknown. While this is the first time mRNA has been used in a licensed vaccine, the structure and technology have been studied for years. Advancements in biology and chemistry have improved mRNA vaccine safety and efficacy, and it is now thought to be less dangerous than other types of vaccines.
No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain aborted fetal cells. However, Johnson & Johnson did use fetal cell lines — not fetal tissue — when developing and producing their vaccine, while Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax used fetal cell lines to test their vaccines and make sure that they work.
Fetal cell lines are grown in a laboratory and were started with cells from elective abortions that occurred several decades ago in the 1970s-80s. They are now thousands of generations removed from the original fetal tissue. None of the COVID-19 vaccines use fetal cells derived from recent abortions.
We understand this is a sensitive issue, and specifically important to religious communities. We’d like to provide some additional context on this topic. On Jan. 27, the California Catholic Conference noted in an official statement that they support the use of all COVID-19 vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19. Pope Francis also publicly supported COVID-19 vaccination and the Vatican has issued a statement saying it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.
No, the vaccines were not made too quickly. Given the importance of stopping the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine experts focused their time on developing safe and effective vaccines by using pre-existing vaccine models that have been studied for years.
Each vaccine was developed and tested following the same rules as other medications and vaccines that have been approved for use, such as antibiotics and the flu shot.
No. There is no way for the COVID-19 vaccine to alter your genetic material (DNA).
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. RNA is a short-lived, temporary messenger, and it only works in one direction. This means that the RNA does not interact with your DNA and never enters the part of the cell where your DNA is located.
The Novavax COVID-19, adjuvanted vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine. It doesn’t contain any genetic material, only proteins and another ingredient called an adjuvant. These components teach your immune system how to recognize and respond quickly if infected with the actual virus spike protein.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses viral vector technology. This means a harmless cold virus (adenovirus 26) is engineered to contain the gene for the SARS-CoV-2 “spike” protein. Once someone gets this shot, their body mounts an immune response and produces antibodies that prevent them from a future severe COVID-19 infection. The genetic material delivered by viral vector does not interact with your DNA.
No. The vaccine was created by expert scientists, not the government. The U.S. government provided money and support to assist in the production and distribution of the vaccine.
The vaccine does not contain a live or whole virus, microchip, or any other harmful items. Each vaccine was developed and tested following the same rules as other medications and vaccines that have been approved for use, such as antibiotics and the flu shot.
No. The vaccines were rolled out in an equitable and orderly way. However, additional vaccine educational outreach is being made to communities of color to help stop the high rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalizations, and death seen in Black, Latino, and Indigenous people.
The US has a history of medical racism and unethical experimentation on people of color. The National Research Act of 1974 outlawed unethical human experimentation on people of color and other vulnerable groups.
The COVID-19 vaccines were created by people of diverse backgrounds and reviewed by leading doctors and scientists of color, including the president of Meharry School of Medicine. The vaccines were tested in people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds and was found to be safe and effective.
The COVID-19 vaccines have been endorsed by the National Medical Association and the National Hispanic Medical Association, the country’s leading organizations of Black and Latino doctors.
Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart that can occur after infections, including viral illnesses. A small number of adolescents and young adults reported experiencing mild heart problems after receiving a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna), that turned out to be myocarditis.
- These patients were predominately male, especially in younger age groups
- More cases were reported after the second dose than the first dose
- Symptoms usually developed within 2-3 days of vaccination
The CDC is currently evaluating the data on myocarditis to assess the benefits versus the risks. They continue to recommend COVID-19 vaccines for everybody 6 months and older. The CDC recommends that young male patients consider waiting 8 weeks before the 1st and 2nd doses of the primary series in order to reduce the potential risk of myocarditis.