Putting the record straight – 5 myths about COVID-19 vaccines

Correct at the time of writing on 3rd March 2021

Regardless of what the cynics and conspiracy theorists might tell you, the approved COVID-19 vaccines are our best shot (excuse the pun) of putting an end to the pandemic. Thanks to the incredible work of the NHS, millions of people across the UK have already received their first injection.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where fake news and false assertions are all too common. So, if any of your employees are worried about the safety of the vaccine, be sure to pass on the following information, which dispels some of the myths that are doing the rounds on social media.

The vaccine can give you COVID-19 - FALSE

Any notion that the COVID-19 vaccines can infect you with the virus are simply untrue. This is just a misunderstanding of how they work.

In reality, none of the UK approved vaccines contain any live COVID-19 infection. Instead, they insert (or teach our cells to create) a harmless piece of the virus called ‘spike proteins’. These proteins create antibodies, which help us to develop immunity to COVID-19 without experiencing the full symptoms of the virus.

The one thing to be aware of is that it does take up to three weeks to develop immunity. So, if an employee does catch the virus before the vaccination (or soon afterwards), the vaccine may not have had chance to take effect.


The approved vaccines contain animal products - FALSE

Again, this is untrue. None of the UK approved vaccines contain any animal products. If your employees are worried about what’s in the vaccine (or the side-effects), a full list of ingredients is available on the Coronavirus Yellowcard website.

If any member of your team is concerned that the vaccine may impact their religious beliefs, it’s also worth adding that many religious organisations are encouraging their followers to have the vaccine – including the British Islamic Medical Council, Hindu Council UK and the Board of Deputies of British Jews.


The side effects of the vaccine are often severe - FALSE

Side effects are always examined closely before any vaccine is given approval. Most people who have a COVID-19 vaccine experience no side effects at all or very mild ones, such as arm pain, muscle or joint aches, fatigue and flu-like symptoms. Typically, these will last no more than a couple of days.

Having said that, it is possible that people with specific allergies may experience a more severe reaction. So, if an employee has had a bad allergic reaction in the past, it may be worth suggesting that they speak to their doctor before going ahead – just to be on the safe side.


The vaccine can affect your DNA - FALSE

Any claims that the vaccines can affect a person’s DNA are completely unfounded. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever to suggest that this is the case.

The idea probably stems from the idea that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines contain messenger RNA (a chemical code that can instruct our DNA). The sole purpose of mRNA is to instruct our bodies to create antibodies that will lead to immunity – there is no way that it can combine with our genetic code to change our DNA.


The COVID-19 safety guidelines don’t apply after your vaccination - FALSE

Although some people think they can ignore the safety guidelines after their vaccination, it’s worth reminding your team that this isn’t true. They still need to stick by the rules.

In most cases, it takes at least two to three weeks for the vaccination to start working. Although the statistics are very reassuring, there’s no guarantee that it will be effective for everyone, even after the second injection. What we do know is that the vaccines are helping to minimise the risk of COVID-19 and reduce infection rates. But until we are instructed otherwise, it’s important for your employees to continue wearing face masks, washing their hands regularly and following the government guidelines.


To find out more about your company health care options with regard to COVID-19, including vaccinations, call MMB today on 0800 023 2785 or complete the contact form below.


This article has been written in collaboration with Bupa, one of MMB’s insurance providers. It is for information only and is not specific advice. It is based on our current understanding of the attributed research which may change in the future.


Sources [Taken from Bupa article]:


  • Kings College London. Coronavirus: vaccine misinformation and the role of social media. www.kcl.ac.uk, published December 2020
  • Understanding how COVID-19 vaccines work. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). www.cdc.gov, last updated January 13 2021
  • Types of vaccine. Vaccine Knowledge Project. Oxford Vaccine Group. vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk, last updated January 12 2021
  • The different types of COVID-19 vaccines. World Health Organization. www.who.int, published January 12 2021
  • What to expect after your COVID-19 vaccination. Public Health England. www.gov.uk, last updated 25 January 2021
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. NHS. www.nhs.uk, last reviewed 4 February 2021
  • There isn’t pork in COVID-19 vaccines. Full Fact. https://fullfact.org/health/there-isnt-pork-in-COVID-19-vaccines/, published 22 January 2021
  • COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccine Knowledge Project. Oxford Vaccine Group. vk.ovg.ox.ac.uk, last updated 22 January 2021
  • Understanding mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). www.cdc.gov, last updated 18 December 2020
  • mRNA vaccines do not change DNA. The European Society of Human Genetics. www.eshg.org, published 28 December 2020
  • Voysey M, Clemens SAC, Madhi SA et al. Single dose administration, and the influence of the timing of the booster dose on immunogenicity and efficacy of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222) vaccine. Preprint with The Lancet. February 2021

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