So you’re nervous about the COVID vaccine
Welcome. First I guess we should make it clear, I’m vaccinated, I’ve been vaccinated, and I got vaccinated early on. If you’re reading this and not a regular around here, then you’re probably looking for some good information about the vaccine to help assuage your fears. The good news is that if you’re here you probably want someone to tell you that it’s okay, that the vaccine is safe, and that you should get it. Well I’m happy to do that for you.
Normally I would link to a whole lot of information about how the vaccine works, why it works, why we got incredibly lucky with the design, and I would probably go into detail about the history of the vaccine. I’ve already done all that though, so instead today I just want to acknowledge that the world is a scary place. You are being bombarded with information all day, everyday. It’s like having your head stuck next to a firehose and the worst part is, it’s hard to tell good information from bad when it comes at you in large quantities like that.
If you’re interested in the science I’ve written about that here. Everyone will have a slightly different experience with being vaccinated, but I’ve thoroughly documented mine. The first shot here, the day after here, the second shot here, the day after here, the third shot here, and the day after here. Now most people get two, but I had a third because I am high risk for severe COVID, eventually others will get the third shot, but for now it’s specifically for high risk and elderly individuals. As you can see, when I say I thoroughly documented my vaccine journey, so hopefully it helps give people peace of mind.
Since we’re trying a different approach today, let’s just talk about some of the common myths. Since I already said I would not be citing my sources (as much as it hurts me not to, but the posts above have citations), I’ll just explain how YOU can find good information yourself based on what I’m telling you. Hopefully this will feel more organic and you won’t have to wonder how to find information to questions I didn’t address or other questions you may have based on this post.
First, let’s talk about mRNA. Not to be confused with DNA, mRNA is incredibly fragile. Did you know the covid vaccine (an mRNA vaccine) needs to be stored at super cold temperatures? It’s shipped frozen at temperatures ranging from about -60 F (-50 C) to 5 F (-15 C). Google covid vaccine storage temperatures to find out more. It’s stored that cold because mRNA is incredibly fragile. It falls apart very easily and in the body it doesn’t last long. The point is that it doesn’t linger in the body because it physically cannot, it’s not possible. If we could stabilize mRNA there would be no need to freeze it and trust me when I say that would be a good thing since it would make transporting the damn thing easier. When people suggest the stuff hangs out in the body, it’s not possible. Google mRNA in the body for more information on how long it lasts. The body produces mRNA on its own, so we know how long the stuff lasts from decades of research on the vaccine and centuries of research on biology in general.
Which brings us to our second common misunderstanding (okay outright lie). The vaccine does not alter your DNA, it doesn’t go anywhere near anything that could alter your DNA, it doesn’t even enter the cell! Instead how the vaccine works is pretty easy to explain. The mRNA gets injected into the muscle, that’s what the shot is doing. The mRNA is coated in a special covering to keep it from just being destroyed outright, it still breaks down at the normal speed, this coating just keeps it from falling apart the second it goes in, because the body is not a habitable place for anything. The coating is just fat, or the technical term is lipid, but a lipid is just fat. Google mRNA vaccine lipid coating to learn more.
Once inside the body it just sits there minding its own business (it’s literally just a to-do list that the body can use, it can’t do anything on its own). Along comes something called a ribosome. The ribosome reads the mRNA (the to-do list) and pops out a protein. In the case of the covid vaccine the protein is the same spike protein found on the COVID virus. It can’t do anything since there’s no covid virus attached to this protein, but the body will eventually recognize that the protein shouldn’t be there, destroy it, and learn that the next time it sees it it needs to do something about it. That’s how we train the immune system and it’s why (in most cases) you get two shots, because we want the immune system to remember that this spike protein is bad and that it needs to remember it. Google mrna spike protein to find out how long the spike protein hangs out in the body. Googling ribosome mrna translation will also give you more information on how ribosomes do their ribosome thing.
The point of the above, the vaccine doesn’t get anywhere near the cell nucleus (the place where your DNA lives) so it cannot alter your DNA, there’s no way for it to do so and if I’m being incredibly frank, it’s not possible. We can’t really do much to the body, but vaccines are incredibly well studied. Which brings us to the next point! The COVID vaccine wasn’t rushed. The technology isn’t new, in fact, other mRNA vaccines have been in the works for ~30 years or so. COVID just took priority for obvious reasons, so there was plenty of money, plenty of researchers, and a huge need. So while the other vaccines are still being researched, there isn’t a whole lot of funding and certainly not the same urgency. If you google mrna vaccine history you can find some good information (nature, cdc, etc.) on the timeline that made the COVID vaccine possible.
I guess the main last misconception I’ve seen is the COVID vaccine and woman’s health. There was suggestions that it causes infertility, or the such. It’s hard to keep track of the latest conspiracy theories and they are just that, stories made up to make money or worse, make sure that people die. Since we’ve already talked about how the vaccine works, I don’t think I need to explain that there is no method of action here. There’s no way for the vaccine to cause infertility or fertility problems at all. In fact, pregnant women are urged to get vaccinated because it can confer some protection to the child. Googling mrna vaccine infertility will hopefully set you on the right path for finding good information regarding the actual science behind why it doesn’t affect fertility. If you don’t trust the CDC, my google search using those terms even gave me several religious organizations explaining that there is no truth to this.
So there you have it. At the end of the day, the vaccine is safe, effective, and millions of people have gotten it without anything bad happening. Meanwhile millions of people have gotten COVID and in the US alone as of this writing we’re up to 687,000 deaths, or almost one million dead from COVID. The rate of death is called the mortality rate, the other important statistic that seems to be ignored is the morbidity rate. Morbidity rate is the rate at which (in this case) COVID causes disability or long-lasting health issues. We know that COVID damages the lungs, heart, and even the brain. We don’t know how long-lasting that is, but we also know that “long-COVID” is a very real thing and is startlingly common.
To lower your chances of long-COVID and to almost eliminate your chances of serious complications from COVID infection, you should get vaccinated. It is safe, incredibly effective, and there is no good reason not to be vaccinated if you can be (immunocompromised, or people who have allergic reactions obviously don’t apply, but I assume if you’re reading this you don’t fall into those categories since you’re looking for information on the vaccine).
I get being scared, but this is a team effort. The more people who get infected, the more likely the virus is to mutate (more here). Being vaccinated doesn’t mean you cannot get infected, that’s not how it works, but it does mean that your body will have the best chance of surviving the infection. People will tell you to trust your immune system, well that’s exactly what I’m doing. I trust my immune system so I’m giving it fair warning that something bad it has never seen is possibly coming. Trust your immune system and pass along the message, it could literally save your life.
Lastly, if you truly are scared, or want to talk more about this, I am 100% okay with you reaching out to me directly. I promise I will take the time to respond to your questions and concerns. Everyone needs to be vaccinated and while I’m not an immunologist, I am a researcher and I know how to find good information. We all need to do our part and I can help even just a single person make the choice to be vaccinated, then I can happily say that I’m doing mine. So reach out if you’re on the fence and hopefully I can help make you feel safe enough to do it, no judgement from me, I promise.