By Elizabeth Sitotombe
GETTING the COVID-19 vaccine is the best shot we have at ending the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused untold suffering.
The world is sick and tired of the misfortunes brought about by this virus while the WHO COVID-19 protocols, whose intentions are aime at saving lives, have, however, taken us several steps backward.
While vaccination hesitancy, due to misinformation and myths, is not new, it is rather saddening to find people on social media making jokes and carelessly passing on statements that discourage people from receiving the jab.
One trending picture on social media shows a zombie-like creature that looks like it’s from outer space with a caption that reads: “Two years after getting vaccinated.”
While humour is encouraged, especially during such torment-filled times, there are other people who might find the joke in bad taste.
On the streets, this writer witnessed women who argued they will not get vaccinated as they still need to bear one or two children and the vaccine ‘would render them infertile’.
Many have claimed they got the virus after being vaccinated.
However, let us look at the myths and facts pertaining to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Myth One: ‘I should not get vaccinated if I am going to catch the virus’.
Fact: COVID-19 vaccines vary in efficacy levels but are not 100 percent effective.
However, they go a long way in preventing severe illness and they reduce the chances of hospitalisation and even death. Global statistics have shown that vaccinated individuals who got COVID-19 driven by the deadly Delta variant were asymptomatic or experienced mild symptoms, while the majority of unvaccinated individuals made up the higher percentage of hospitalised patients.
Myth Two: ‘One can get COVID-19 from the vaccines’.
Fact: COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus and can therefore not make you sick with COVID-19.
The authorised mRNA vaccines instruct your cells to reproduce a protein that is part of the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus, which helps your body to recognise and fight the virus.
Myth Three: ‘People with underlying conditions should not be vaccinated’.
Fact: The opposite is true.
The Ministry of Health and Childcare in Zimbabwe has encouraged the vaccination of people with underlying conditions such as asthma, cancer, HIV, hypertension, diabetes, liver and kidney problems to boost their immunity.
The Ministry also urged people to continue taking their medication as advised by their medical doctors.
Myth Four: ‘COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility in women’.
Fact: There is no evidence that suggests COVID-19 vaccinations cause problems with conceiving.
It does not affect fertility.
While there is no reason to believe that vaccines are a risk to pregnant women or those trying to conceive, there is evidence of the dangers of COVID-19 to pregnant women.
Pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to get sicker than those who are not, which is why all should be vaccinated.
Myth Five: ‘My menstrual cycle can be affected by going near someone who is vaccinated’.
Fact: Being near someone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine cannot affect one’s menstrual cycle.
There are many factors that can affect one’s cycle, like stress and changes to one’s diet.
It is not possible to shed or release any of the COVID-19 vaccine components during one’s menstrual cycle.
Myth Six: The vaccine will change your DNA
Fact: The COVID-19 vaccine is trained to help the body’s immune system fight the virus.
The messenger RNA from two of the first types of COVID-19 vaccines does enter cells, but not the nucleus of the cells where one’s DNA resides.
The mRNA does its job to cause the cell to make protein to stimulate the immune system, and then it quickly breaks down without affecting one’s DNA.
Myth Seven: ‘If I had COVID-19 I do not need to get vaccinated’.
Fact: After getting COVID-19, people do get an immune response, but this varies from person to person.
The vaccine serves to boost the immune system.
The immune system has already seen the infection once, from when you got infected, then when you receive the vaccine, it then sees the antigens again, it is then reminded of the antigens; the memory gets boosted and immune response generally gets stronger and broader as likely to be long-lasting.
Myth Eight: ‘Once vaccinated I no longer need to wear a mask’.
Fact: Until a sufficient number of people are fully vaccinated, masking, hand-washing and physical distancing remains a pre-requisite when in public.
Government has done a great job in establishing the national vaccination programme and people should get vaccinated to complement its efforts.
In the same vein, the Government of Zimbabwe recently extended the lockdown Level Four by another two weeks.
In a statement, the Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, said the move had been necessitated by the fact that more effort is required to contain the Third Wave.
“This has been necessitated by the realisation that although there has been a number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, more efforts are required to contain the Third Wave,” she said.
“Members of the public are therefore urged to take this opportunity to get vaccinated.
Government will continue to procure vaccines and avail them to those who are eligible and willing to be vaccinated.”
Over the past few weeks, the country has seen a reduction in the number of both new cases and deaths.
The average daily cases recorded fell to 352 from 366 that had been recorded on Sunday while the recovery rate stood at 88 percent.
Encouraging and talking to others about the COVID-19 vaccines will go a long way in ensuring herd immunity is achieved.
In the meantime, it is important that we continue to wear our masks properly, sanitise and maintain social distancing.