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Debunking COVID-19 vaccine myths

20 December 2021

Respiratory and Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr Tim Whitmore debunks the four most common myths about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Myth: The vaccines were rushed and are a safety concern.

The vaccines haven't been rushed and there were no shortcuts on safety.

What most people don’t know is that the technology (mRNA and adenovirus vector vaccines) has been in development for decades and was nearly ready to deploy. 

The only thing that was sped up was the amount of money that was thrown at the vaccines as well as the immense number of studies undertaken and patients in the studies.

Myth: I get so sick when I have vaccines so it’s not worth me getting.

The vaccines are not a live virus at all. 

With this in mind, feeling sick when you have the flu vaccine isn't the virus, it’s a sign of your immune system working and reacting, releasing chemical agents designed to kill the virus.

If you have a strong reaction, you've probably had a really good immune response and you might even have a bit more protection if you're lucky.

Myth: The vaccine will have terrible side effects.

There is always a risk of an immune reaction with any vaccine. The actual overall risk is infinitesimally small. 

Everyone stresses, "If I have the vaccine, will I get a flare of my underlying condition?" and the answer is ‘maybe’, but we can treat that and have an action plan in place to prepare and cope. 

Whereas, if you're exposed to and acquire COVID-19, we're in a much more difficult situation.

The vaccines are very safe. Even if you were to develop an exceedingly rare adverse outcome, the risk of death from it is now less than one in a million because we know how to treat it. 

If you've driven in your car to see me in-clinic, that's a one in 5,000 risk of being in a fatal car accident, so it's all about the risk benefit.

Myth: If I contract COVID-19 and survive, I will be immune in the future.

This is incorrect. 

While we have proven patients who have been exposed to COVID-19 develop an immune response giving you some relative protection, you’ll get much better protection from a double dose vaccine and booster than you will from natural immunity.

My final note

I highly encourage everyone to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (double dose and booster). 

Interested to find out more? Take a look as these videos from Infectious Diseases Specialist Professor Shirley Bowen, as she debunks other COVID-19 myths.

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Photo of St John of God Subiaco Hospital Dr Tim Whitmore
Dr Tim Whitmore - Respiratory and Infectious Diseases Specialist
Dr Whitmore is a respiratory and infectious diseases specialist with a particular interest in tuberculosis, non-tuberculous mycobacterial disease, complex fungal infections, and management of infections associated with immunocompromised hosts.

Dr Whitmore currently works at the Anita Clayton Centre as a Respiratory and Infectious Diseases Physician for management of tuberculosis and M leprae infections. He also works at Royal Perth Hospital as a Respiratory Physician, and at St John of God Subiaco Hospital and Respiratory West as a Respiratory and Infectious Diseases Physician providing inpatient and outpatient care.
Photo of St John of God Subiaco Hospital Dr Tim Whitmore
Dr Tim Whitmore Respiratory and Infectious Diseases Specialist