There’s a blizzard of beliefs, half-truths and, yes, quality information regarding COVID-19 and the vaccines now available to prevent it.

Differentiating between facts and fiction — especially on social media or online — can be tricky.

“COVID-19 cannot be overcome without this vaccine,” said David Basel, MD, Vice President of Avera Medical Group Quality. “We need to build confidence and advance the truth — the facts and the hard data — about what we truly know.”

COVID-19 is a new, or novel, virus. That’s why there’s a new vaccine, new treatments — as well as new questions not yet answered.

Basel provides clarity on some common myths and questions about the vaccine, its safety and side effects.

Does the COVID vaccine affect fertility?

A myth that Basel saw online involved claims that the vaccine includes a protein strand related to the placenta and that women getting vaccinated can face infertility or miscarriage.

“It looks like a really good site, with quotes from Pfizer employees and everything,” he said. “But it’s bogus. The facts are off-base, and the claims are not based on any studies or findings. These sorts of things can trick us because of the way they look.”

Refer back to good sources — like the CDC or Avera.org/covid-vaccine to get answers.

“Or talk to your provider — we are always happy to give patients good, grounded information,” said Basel.

I’m younger, healthy and I don’t need a shot

The kernel of truth in this statement is the fact that younger, lower-risk individuals will likely face less-extreme versions of COVID-19 hides the myth in this case.

“We need everyone — in health care, not in health care, young, old or in between to do their part,” Basel said. “Younger people may have milder cases, but that’s not guaranteed. They can also pass it onto people more at risk, such as elders. The only way through to the end of this pandemic is through vaccination. We won’t get to the 70-80% rate we need if everyone doesn’t chip in and help.”

I don’t want the shot to give me the disease – like the flu!

The long-standing myth a vaccine can cause a person to “get” the virus is just that: not true.

“It’s impossible to get COVID-19 from the vaccines,” Basel said. “Your immune system will react, and that shows the vaccine is working, with the soreness at the injection site, some fatigue and aches. That reaction is normal — but it doesn’t mean you have the virus.”

What about serious allergic reactions?

Perspective is important in public health. The tens of thousands of people in clinical studies who received the vaccine with only mild side effects — and who now are protected — cannot be set side-by-side with one or two accounts of some sort of reaction.

“We want to avoid any allergic reactions, but in those few cases, we can usually help and treat that response,” said Basel. “Compare that to the millions of doses and the hundreds of thousands of people that potentially can be saved, and you’ll see why one-off stories are less important overall.”

Won’t herd immunity come – vaccine or not?

Even with “known” viruses such as the seasonal flu, the concept of herd immunity requires years to have an effect and reduce the health impacts of the illness.

“Were we to await some sort of COVID-19 herd immunity, it would take several years and cost tremendous amounts of money in terms of care, treatment and recovery. It would also lead to many more deaths,” said Basel. “The vaccine is a safe, effective method for us to make progress in public health. We encourage everyone to get it as soon as they have the opportunity.”

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, including when it may be available for you.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.

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