With the COVID-19 vaccine quickly becoming more widely available around the country, you may still have some lingering questions you'd like answered before signing up to get your first shot.

Before making any medical decision, you should always talk to your doctor and voice any questions or concerns on your mind. Your doctor should have the latest information about the vaccine, including availability in your area.

“For most people, it’s a good idea to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available for widespread distribution, so you have some protection against this virus,” says Thomas Bader, M.D., vice president for medical quality and outcomes at Hackensack Meridian Health. “For younger children, researchers are still working to understand the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine for that population.”

Below, Dr. Bader and our friends at Hackensack Meridian Health will help us navigate what's TRUE and what's FALSE when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine:

CLAIM: COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19

TRUE – None of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in development in the U.S. use the live virus that causes COVID-19. Some vaccines use an inactivated virus or viral vector, while others use new mRNA technology. The goal for each of the vaccines in development is to teach our immune system to recognize and fight off the virus that causes COVID-19.

CLAIM: You should get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19

TRUE – Because of the severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and the TRUE that re-infection with COVID-19 is possible, you should consider getting a COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve been sick with COVID-19 in the past.

If you’ve previously been infected, the FDA advises you wait 90 days following your initial infection before receiving the vaccine.

CLAIM: Everyone that wants a vaccine will be able to receive one

TRUE & FALSE – While it’s true that there will be a limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccine immediately, everyone that wants a vaccine will be able to get one eventually.

However, at this time, health care workers, first responders and elderly people living in communal settings will be among the first to get the vaccine. From there, essential workers and those at risk for serious complications from COVID-19 will be next to get the shots followed by more of the general public.

CLAIM: Receiving an mRNA vaccine will alter your DNA

FALSE – mRNA stands for messenger ribonucleic acid and can generally be described as instructions for your body on how to make a protein or even just a piece of a protein. mRNA is not able to alter or modify a person’s genetic makeup, or DNA. The mRNA from a COVID-19 vaccine never enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA are kept. Instead, COVID-19 vaccines that use mRNA work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop protection (immunity) to the disease. Learn more from the CDC about how COVID-19 mRNA vaccines work.

CLAIM: The vaccine process is moving too fast

FALSE – In this unprecedented global pandemic, vaccine development is a race against the clock. Operation Warp Speed is a federal government initiative that was launched earlier this year designed to help scientists and funding come together to move vaccine candidates through the process for preclinical and clinical assessment, including animal and human trials.

This initiative along with the record amounts of funding and information sharing have enabled researchers to advance into phase 3 clinical trials (testing the vaccine on large groups of people to evaluate safety and effectiveness) in six months instead of the typical two years.

CLAIM: The COVID-19 vaccine will end the pandemic

FALSE – The development of a vaccine is only the first step in helping end the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. In order to put an end to the pandemic, we must also have wide distribution of the vaccine and show signs that it’s working as expected. Until then, we must all continue to do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to wear masks in public, practicing social distancing, etc.

CLAIM: One COVID-19 vaccine is better than the other

FALSE – Both COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization have been found to be over 94% effective at protecting against the virus. Here’s a comparison:

Hackensack Meridian Health is dedicated to treating your ongoing medical needs and can provide convenient care options, including COVID-19 evaluations and testing. Visit them online at hackensackmeridianhealth.org to locate and schedule an appointment at an urgent care center near you.

Other resources from Hackensack Meridian Health:

  1. Survey: https://dpds.survey.fm/preferred-content-preferences
  2. Behind the COVID-19 Vaccine Approval Process: https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2020/12/09/behind-the-covid-19-vaccine-approval-process/
  3. Exposed to COVID? Here’s When to Get Tested: https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2020/12/03/exposed-to-covid-heres-when-to-get-tested/
  4. How to Safely Participate in Winter Sports During A Pandemic: https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2020/12/09/how-to-safely-participate-in-winter-sports-during-a-pandemic/
  5. What Athletes Should Know About COVID-19 and the Heart: https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2020/12/14/what-athletes-should-know-about-covid-19-and-the-heart/
  6. Recipe: Bob Garrett’s Bolognese Sauce: https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2020/12/14/recipe-bob-garretts-bolognese-sauce/
  7. Podcast: Over the Shoulder: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/pop-culture-rx-over-the-shoulder/id1144653275?i=1000499018570