Maybe you saw it on social media. Heard it from a friend or relative. Got it in an email. Or have just been wondering silently to yourself.
No matter where you heard that claim about the COVID-19 vaccines, it might be making you wary of getting vaccinated when it’s your turn.
You’ve come to the right place.
I collected some of the most widespread rumors, claims, myths and worries about the COVID-19 vaccines, and checked them out with help from American and European Medicine experts. We also link to websites where you can learn more.
FACT: We have COVID-19 vaccines available now because science and health experts responded swiftly to a deadly public health crisis
Myths and fears: Many people have voiced concerns about how quickly the vaccines have become available, how short the testing process was, or how political the whole vaccine production effort has gotten because of the national election.
There are claims that it was rushed, or that “corners were cut” in the clinical trials or the government’s safety review and approval process.
The bottom line: The entire process went faster than usual for explainable reasons, but still followed the usual steps for testing and review. The most important reasons for speed: modern scientific tools are faster than old ones, and there was a worldwide effort to reduce or remove the usual barriers and delays in vaccine research, production and distribution. A large number of ordinary people volunteered for clinical trials of the vaccines, which meant we got the answers to key questions about safety and protection quickly.
The vaccines still received independent review and approval, under emergency rules put in place before this pandemic for situations where the public’s health is at serious and immediate risk, as it is now.
So why it was so quick in finding the vaccine:
The fact that the pandemic was so out of control in the U.S. and other countries this summer and fall, when the clinical trials were going on. Because the people who volunteered to get the vaccine had a high chance of being exposed to the virus in their everyday lives, researchers could see within months how many of the ones who got actual vaccines got sick with COVID-19, compared with the people in the groups that got the placebos. The approval process through the FDA had an independent panel of experts look at the data from the studies, and ask tough questions of the vaccine makers before voting to approve it on an emergency basis. The FDA is also requiring the companies to track what happens to people who took part in its studies, and the CDC will monitor what happens to people who get the vaccine outside the studies.