Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Debunking Anti-Vaccine Myths with Scientific Facts

A soldier gets a shot in the arm. A Norwegian soldier administers a COVID-19 vaccine to U.S. soldier at Ayn Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, on June 4, 2021. Norwegian Soldiers volunteered to administer COVID-19 vaccinations to U.S. soldiers, coalition forces, and civilian contractors. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Clara Soria-Hernandez)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Even after months of vaccinations, and nearly one million service members have received a vaccine, myths and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines still abound.

However, the science behind the vaccines, and the effectiveness of those vaccines remain.

Some of the reasons why military personnel say they are not getting vaccinated include:

  • Skepticism about the effects of the COVID-19 disease on young, healthy service members
  • Questions about the vaccine’s possible long-term side effects that could emerge years later
  • Changing information about the COVID-19 vaccines and the virus itself
  • Concerns about a baby’s health in a pregnant service member
  • Fears among male service members about their future fertility

Many of these concerns stem from false, inaccurate, or misleading information gathered from social media and misinformation super-spreaders.

Fact: The belief that young people cannot become seriously ill from catching the coronavirus is false. And newer, anecdotal reports suggest the virus’s Delta variant is causing more serious illness in young people compared to versions of the virus that were spreading last year.

The Truth About Side Effects

Fact: Even the young and healthy can still become infected and be a vector for spreading the virus, so everyone should get vaccinated to protect others, if not just themselves.

Fact: While there have been some rare but serious side effects detected after vaccinations – including an inflammation of the heart muscle and a neurological condition called Guillen-Barre syndrome, most of these cases recover. The Food and Drug Administration has months of data on the vaccines. That is from the more than 165 million people who are fully vaccinated in the U.S.

Fact: The messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are based on a safe vaccine platform for which data go back to the 1990’s, and the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine also is based on tried-and-true technology.

Fact: FDA is moving forward on full approval for COVID-19 vaccines, which may allay fears about long-term side effects. Pfizer submitted the vaccine for full approval July 16 for those ages 16 and older, according to the FDA. Moderna said it could apply for full approval before year-end.

On July 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine’s safety and effectiveness benefits still outweigh its rare risks for Guillen-Barre syndrome, and other side effects.

All three vaccines have rare adverse events including myocarditis/pericarditis, an inflammation of the heart. However, the ACIP decided that currently, the benefits still significantly outweigh the risks for COVID-19.

A soldier is tested for COVID-19
An Army soldier with Task Force Warrior receives a PCR test for COVID-19 in Bataraja, Indonesia, on July 28, 2021. Garuda Shield is a joint-exercise with the purpose of enhancing and enriching the jungle warfare ability of both the U.S. Army and Indonesian Army while mitigating COVID-19 risk through vaccination, testing, and quarantine procedures. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Rachel Christensen)

Fertility Questions

“The questions have changed over time, but the infertility issues remain” on the minds of pregnant service members at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, said Dr. Y. Sammy Choi, chief of the Department of Research at Womack Army Medical Center.

The science, however, backs the fact that there are no signs of harm to the fetus.

Fact: Of the more than 69,000 pregnant women vaccinated against COVID-19, there are no signs of harm to the fetus. In fact, babies born to vaccinated women are born with immune responses against the virus.

An April 22 study in the “New England Journal of Medicine” tracked 35,691 pregnant women. Compared to a control group of pregnant women pre-COVID, “women who had received the vaccine did not experience an increased rate of miscarriages or adverse neonatal outcomes,” the article states.

Fact: The vaccines have no known impact on fertility in men. The dangers of losing fertility are greater from actually getting COVID-19, especially among men who have circulatory issues that could result in erectile dysfunction (ED).

A study in the journal “Andrology” found that “there is preliminary evidence in a real-life population of ED dysfunction as a risk factor of developing COVID-19 and possibly occurring as a consequence of COVID-19.” The study was observational and does not prove causality, but it will lead to more research to delineate the effects of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and male reproductive health, Choi said.

A research letter published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” June 21 found that “sperm counts were not lowered in men receiving either of the mRNA vaccines.”

Fact: U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said in his July 15 report on handling health misinformation: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, health misinformation has sowed confusion, reduced trust in public health measures, and hindered efforts to get Americans vaccinated.”

There are other reasons service members are citing for not getting vaccinated, Choi said. From his discussions with soldiers at Fort Bragg, these include:

  • Service members have a choice to refuse because the vaccine is not mandated as it is still under Emergency Use Authorization. That could change if and when the vaccines are fully approved.
  • Some people believe that the vaccine does not really work, otherwise the president would have mandated it. It remains unclear what the president is thinking about full vaccination mandates just yet.
  • Some believe that COVID-19 will have little effect on service members personally. This is generally true as the chance of severe disease is small, Choi said.
  • Many unvaccinated service members believe that if they got sick, there would be little societal effect. This is false because an infection can lead to mutations, as shown by the Delta variant, Choi said.
  • The vaccinated are having breakthrough cases. This is true but only in very small numbers.
  • The vaccine is not working since officials are discussing boosters. This is false. Boosters are to enhance efficacy, Choi explained, adding: “If the vaccine was not really working, we would not give boosters, but a completely different vaccine.”
  • Some experts, including PhD scientists and medical doctors, have told the public not to get the vaccine. Unfortunately, this is true, he noted
  • If things are as bad as the CDC says, why have some states reduced mask mandates instead of increasing them (a recent argument)? Unfortunately, this is also true and depends on the viewpoints of individual state leaders rather than medical experts
  • Seemingly smart elected officials, including some doctors, are providing mixed messages. This is true and happens all too often, Choi pointed out.

To counter such false reasoning, federal and state governments and the military continue to tailor their pro-vaccination messages very carefully. Already, in recent weeks there has been an uptick in Americans getting vaccinated as the number of those infected with the Delta variant increases exponentially.

Choi said “one of the appeals I am using now is that of perfection. Some are demanding the trifecta for the vaccine: 100% without serious side effects, 100% without breakthrough cases, and 100% without the need for a booster.” Choi said: “If we required that same perfection in all that we did…none of us would ever take a pill or any of the vaccines that most of us have taken or given to our children.”

You also may be interested in...

MHS Reaches 6 Million Doses of Vaccine Against COVID

Article
11/10/2021
Airmen of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, receive COVID-19 immunizations as a part of the federal mandate at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Oct. 2, 2021. The 139th Medical Group oversees the operation. .

Military passes 6 million mark for COVID-19 shots administered across the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

COVID 19 Vaccine Is Now Available for Children 5 to 11

Article
11/9/2021
5-year-old girl in mask reads a book by herself

COVID-19 vaccines for 5-11 year olds are ready now through MHS

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

More Than 95% of Active Duty Have Received COVID-19 Vaccine

Article
10/15/2021
Female hospital corpsman gives a COVID-19 vaccine injection to a sailor in her left arm

Service members continue to line up for COVID-19 vaccinations.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

Mask Mouth Does Not Exist, Dentists Say

Article
10/6/2021
A bunch of children wearing face masks walk on a city street.

Mask mouth doesn’t exist, Internet chatter to the contrary, dentists say.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Shots are Now Available – What You Need to Know

Article
9/30/2021
Containers of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Each vial contains six doses for vaccination against the COVID-19 virus.

Booster shots are now recommended for millions of people – but many others will have to wait for additional approvals.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Myths & facts about the vax - debunking common COVID-19 vaccine myths

Article
9/29/2021
Myths and facts about the vax

The COVID-19 vaccine has been mandated across the Department of Defense and despite its demonstrated effectiveness and safety, a host of myths have left some Airmen and Guardians hesitant to receive it. While social media posts and some news outlets may make it harder to keep up with what is fact or fiction, the science is clear … approved COVID-19 vaccines work.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DODEA Schools Keeps On With In-Person Classes, and Fall Sports, Too

Article
9/23/2021
Kids playing football

DODEA schools are striving to continue in-person learning in the 2021-22 school year.

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Coronavirus

The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Health Care Workers are Coping

Article
9/13/2021
a nurse helping a COVID-19 patient

For health care providers, experiencing the pandemic inside a hospital has brought

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Military Health Podcasts

Increased COVID Restrictions on the Pentagon Reservation

Article
9/8/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and positive test cases in the National Capital Region, the Pentagon Reservation will move to Health Protection Condition Bravo Plus (Bravo+)

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

Digital health innovation emerges during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
8/31/2021
The Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic. (Graphic courtesy of DHA Connected Health)

The DHA's Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise, and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Connected Health | Coronavirus

Secretary of Defense Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations for Service Members

Article
8/26/2021
An Army medic administers the COVID-19 vaccine to another soldier.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III yesterday issued a memorandum directing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DOD Intends to Mandate Pfizer Vaccine, Pentagon Official Says

Article
8/25/2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby holds a press briefing, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Kirby said the health of DOD's military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Maintaining Mission Readiness During a Pandemic

Article
8/24/2021
Gen. Place presents at HIMSS in Las Vegas.

DHA Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place discussed the national security implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus | Deployment Health

Reform, COVID-19 Have Been Catalysts for Change in Military Medicine

Article
8/16/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim speaking to an audience at a conference

Healthcare is about taking care of people, so no amount of change or innovation is ever sufficient if modernization does not lead to helping patients, says acting ASDHA at HIMSS21 in Las Vegas.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Military Health System Transformation
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 26

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.