By Juanita Carnes FNP, Board of Health chair and Joseph Rouse, Health director

Westfield Health Director

Unfortunately the trajectory of the pandemic has turned for the worse. The good news is the scare of this surge is increasing vaccine rates. The bad news is that these cases and deaths are completely preventable and shouldn’t be happening. If EVERYONE received a simple safe vaccine, individuals and families would not be grieving. Public Health officials lie awake at night pondering ways to encourage the unvaccinated. One powerful route is education of Myth vs Fact.

Myth /miTH/ (noun): a widely held but fast belief or idea.

Fact /fakt/ (noun): a thing that is known or proved to be true. The following are several MYTHS (bold font) followed by FACTS (italics) about the COVID-19 vaccine:

#1 MYTH: Young healthy people don’t need the vaccine. FACT: While they are less likely to die, contracting COVID-19 is still dangerous. Many suffer from long haul symptoms. Being fit and healthy strengthens your immune system. It does not provide antibodies to the virus.

Chair, Westfield Board of Health

#2 MYTH: Vaccine development was rushed. FACT: Research on this type of vaccine has been active for over a decade. Clinical trials were carefully executed following proper protocol.

#3 MYTH: Vaccines are unsafe and were made with unethical ingredients. FACT: Microchips in the vaccine are simply impossible. This myth began with Bill Gates musing about a digital vaccine certificate. Microchips are placed on the outside of some of the vaccine boxes to ensure attention to expiration date and prevent use of counterfeit vaccines. If you are worried about microchips, get rid of your cell phone. Aborted fetal tissue was not used in the vaccines.

#4 MYTH: Changes in your DNA will occur. FACT: There is no scientific basis for this. The mRNA does not enter our genome.

#5 MYTH: You can get COVID from the vaccine. FACT: There is no live or dead virus in the vaccine. You cannot get COVID from the vaccine.

#6 MYTH: If you have had COVID-19, you don’t need a vaccine. FACT: This is a little less clear than some of the other myths, but studies show that immunity from having the virus only lasts about 3 months. It is also still unknown how long immunity from the vaccine lasts. We may eventually need a booster, like many other vaccines.

#7 MYTH: COVID-19 vaccine causes you to be magnetic (not magnetic personality). FACT: There are no ingredients that produce an electromagnetic field. The vaccine is also free of metals. #8 MYTH: The vaccine is not safe in pregnancy and it can make you infertile. FACT: Studies to date have shown safety in pregnancy and its use is recommended. It is shown to pass antibodies to the baby. Antibodies are also thought to be passed through breast milk. There is no evidence that it causes infertility in men or women.

#9 MYTH: The COVID vaccine will cause you to test positive. FACT: It will not cause you to test positive in a rapid or PCR test. You may test positive in an antibody test because that is what the vaccine is supposed to do; create antibodies to COVID-19.

#10 MYTH: You can delay routine vaccines. FACT: This is not advised. All vaccines are important. Because of COVID restrictions in medical offices you may experience alternate times and locations.

#11 MYTH: One dose of a two dose vaccine is good enough. FACT: NO. You need both doses for immunity and protection.

#12 MYTH: It is a good idea to wait for a better vaccine. FACT: All vaccines in the U.S. are safe and effective. The goal is to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible.

#13 MYTH: The side effects of the vaccine are dangerous. FACT: Some experience short term side effects of injection site pain, body aches, headache and fever lasting 1-2 days. If you have serious allergies that require you to carry an epipen, consult your provider. Other rare side effects have been investigated.

#14 MYTH: No masks are necessary after vaccination. FACT: Masks are still an important tool. It is still possible to get infected after vaccination with less serious illness or no symptoms. The bigger concern is that you can transmit the virus to others. Wear your mask, wash your hands and maintain distance until more people are vaccinated. Remember, children under 12 do not have the opportunity to be vaccinated and we are all collectively responsible for their health and safety.

#15 MYTH: It doesn’t matter if one person choses not to get the vaccine. FACT: This is a global pandemic experiencing a fourth surge. Global participation of vaccination and COVID precautions is necessary to end it.

Another definition of a myth is a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon or cautionary tale. Let us all do the right thing to end this pandemic so our descendants aren’t reading the tragic myth of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Take care of yourself and someone else.

Dedicated health department members who have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic are: Debra Mulvenna RN, Assistant Director Evelyn Bristol RN, Steve Cipriani, Health Inspector Thomas Hibert, Office Manager Crystal Dugay, Kathi Cotugno, CORE coordinator Other Board Members: Margaret Doody, Stan Strzempko MD.



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