6 myths about the COVID-19 vaccine that aren’t supported by science

From tracking devices to alteration of DNA, the claims are baseless

COVID-19 vaccine

SAN ANTONIO – We are a year into the coronavirus pandemic and nearly two months into the release of COVID-19 vaccines that have been issued to all 50 states.

As of Monday, Jan. 25, more than 265,000 Texans have been fully vaccinated and nearly 1.5 million have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services.

Texas health officials are receiving doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government and distributing them to hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, emergency rooms and other clinics.

People in Phase 1A, which includes health care workers, nursing home workers and residents of long term care facilities, as well as people in Phase 1B, which includes people 65 and older, and people 18 and older with at least one chronic illness, are currently eligible to receive the vaccine.

In an effort to provide fact- and science-based information about the vaccines, we’ve reached out to experts at the forefront of stopping the spread of COVID-19 to inform our hourlong special that airs on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. on KSAT 12, KSAT-TV and KSAT.com. Read more on that here.

With so much information about the vaccine being released in the short time that it has been available, there have also been a number of claims and myths about the vaccine that are not supported by science.

KSAT has delved into some of these claims below.

1. Trust Index: COVID-19 vaccine does not alter DNA, medical experts say

Two medical experts, Dr. Bryan Alsip, chief medical officer at University Health System, and Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease specialist at UT Health San Antonio, have said this claim is NOT TRUE.

Because the vaccines use a technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA, there’s confusion and misinformation about what the vaccine does after it’s injected into your arm.

Two medical experts, Dr. Bryan Alsip, chief medical officer at University Health System, and Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease specialist at UT Health San Antonio, have said this claim is NOT TRUE.

“The mRNA does not enter the nucleus of our cells. It doesn’t integrate into our genetic blueprint, so it doesn’t become part of us,” Bowling said. “It doesn’t linger in our body. It’s not going to be passed on to your offspring. These are some of the questions that have been raised as far as concerns.”

Read more.

2. Doctors address false claim that COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility, sterilization

Posts claiming that the COVID-19 vaccine causes infertility in women and sterilization in men appear to be targeting those who are pregnant, looking to conceive, or planning a family in the future.

“So the short answer is, it does not cause infertility,” said Dr. Patrick Ramsey, Chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine for University Health System. “Currently we wouldn’t expect the vaccine to work any differently than we would for actual infections, so the preliminary data from the vaccines has shown no concerns for fertility for men or women.”

Read more.

3. The COVID-19 vaccine does not and cannot cause COVID-19.

“That’s really important to recognize. This comes up with vaccines all the time. This does not contain live virus. It will not turn into COVID-19 infection,” said Dr. Jason Bowling, lead hospital epidemiologist at University Health System.

In this fact vs. fiction video, Dr. Bowling addresses vaccine safety, dosing, immunity and availability.

Read more.

4. Trust Index: Does the COVID-19 vaccine contain a tracking device?

Recently, an unfounded social media theory gaining traction online claims that there are microchips and tracking devices in the COVID-19 vaccine.

An unfounded social media theory gained traction online claiming that there are microchips and tracking devices in the COVID-19 vaccine. The KSAT Trust Index team took a closer look at this claim and determined that it’s not true.

The basis for this theory stems from false claims that accuse Microsoft founder Bill Gates of implanting microchips in the vaccine which are said to dissolve under the skin and leave “quantum dots” that are used to track people.

“The government has done some nefarious stuff in the past, I’ll be the first to admit that, but in this case, I don’t think that that’s at all operative or even possible,” said Rev. Dr. Kenneth Kemp, a local pulmonologist.

Read more.

5. Trust Index: No, there is not fetal tissue in the COVID-19 vaccines

It is perhaps one of the most asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine: Do the vaccines contain fetal tissue from aborted fetuses?

A claim that fetal tissue is being used in the manufacturing process or in the development of the vaccine has been widely circulated across the country over social media.

According to San Antonio epidemiologist Dr. Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, the claim is false.

“It’s not true. Unfortunately, that’s a myth that the anti-vaxxers have been using for a decade,” Rohr-Allegrini told KSAT. “We know this vaccine has been studied very well. I feel very confident in taking it. We should all feel confident about taking it.”

Read more.

6 Trust Index: Posts falsely claim that Tennessee nurse died after getting COVID-19 vaccine

A viral post on social media claimed a Tennessee nurse died shortly after getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

Those posts are wrong. In fact, she’s alive, and while she did pass out after getting her shot, she confirmed it’s due to an unrelated medical condition.

Read more.

Find more fact-checks on our Trust Index page.

About the Authors:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.

Isis Romero anchors the Nightbeat and creates long-form reporting series for KSAT. She joined the KSAT 12 news team in 2010.