Does the COVID-19 vaccine actually contain a microchip? Is it a bigger risk than contracting the virus?
With rumours such as these and so many more swirling around, the Australian Government is ramping up its campaign against misinformation, as the vaccination program moves into Phase 1B.
Here's what we know so far:
Were COVID-19 vaccines developed too quickly to be safe?
In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, or the TGA, has been rigorously assessing the potential COVID-19 vaccines for safety, quality and effectiveness. They will continue to do this with all vaccines before they will be approved and made available to Australians.
Once approved, each batch must also be checked to make sure it meets the same quality standards.
It may appear they have been developed very quickly, but researchers around the world have been working hard to develop COVID-19 vaccines from the earliest stages of the pandemic.
They have been able to speed up development of vaccines thanks to the collaboration between them, scientists, manufacturers and distributors.
The development and implementation planning phases have been run side-by side, instead of one after the other. This has been made possible because of unprecedented global funding.
In addition, research into how to respond to a pandemic has been occurring long before COVID-19.
This research looks at data from previous coronaviruses such as SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012, giving researchers a head start when it comes to building the COVID-19 vaccines.
Are COVID-19 vaccines a bigger risk than contracting the virus?
Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on individuals and countries.
To date, more than 119.6 million people have contracted the illness and more than 2.5 million people have died. Health systems and frontline medical staff are stretched beyond capacity.
Any vaccine can cause some mild side effects. The main side effects from vaccines are some soreness, redness or swelling where you had the injection, a headache or mild fever and fatigue. Most of these can be managed with some mild pain relief and are no cause for alarm.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – Australia’s independent medicines regulator – will not approve a vaccine that is not safe and effective.
When they talk about safety, one of the things they are looking at very closely is severe side effects – and any medication that would cause severe negative side effects would not be approved in this country.
The TGA’s job does not stop with approval. It also keeps a close eye on the data coming in from overseas and the vaccine rollout here. Nothing is left to chance.
Do COVID-19 vaccines contain a microchip or any kind of tracking technology?
None of the COVID-19 vaccines in development contain software or microchips.
They cannot be used to track people.
Read more about the COVID-19 vaccines approved in Australia.
Can COVID-19 vaccines connect me to the internet?
COVID-19 vaccines do not – and cannot – connect you to the internet.
Some of the mRNA vaccines being developed include the use of a material called a hydrogel, which might help disperse the vaccine slowly into our cells.
Bioengineers have used similar hydrogels for many years in different ways. For instance, they've used them to help stem cells survive after being put inside our bodies.
Because of this, some people believe that hydrogels are needed for electronic implants, which can connect to the internet.
The Pfizer mRNA vaccine does not use hydrogels as a component.
The Pfizer mRNA vaccine contains a piece of mRNA which is coated in a lipid (fatty) droplet. The lipid helps the vaccine enter our cells, as the membrane holding our cells together is also made mostly of lipid. The vaccine and the membrane can fuse easily, depositing the mRNA inside the cell.
Do COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?
The TGA will not approve a vaccine for use in Australia unless it is safe and effective. This includes impacts on fertility.
The theory that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility is based on the disproven idea that one of the spike proteins in COVID-19 and the Syncytin-1 protein (which help placenta development) are the same. They are not.
The COVID-19 vaccine, like other vaccines, works by training our bodies to develop antibodies to fight against the virus that causes COVID-19, to prevent future illness.
There is currently no evidence that antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccination cause any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta.
In addition, there is no evidence suggesting that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine.
People who are trying to become pregnant now or who plan to try in the future may receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has also provided advice for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.
Can COVID-19 vaccines alter my DNA?
COVID-19 vaccines do not alter your DNA.
Some of the new COVID-19 vaccines use a fragment of Messenger RNA (mRNA) to instruct your body to make an immune response against COVID-19.
The mRNA does not do anything to your DNA.
Is the vaccine rollout a cover to collect DNA?
When you get a vaccine, the vaccine is given into your body.
COVID-19 vaccines in Australia are given by injection. There is nothing taken from your body, including your DNA.
There is no way anyone can collect your DNA by having a COVID-19 vaccination.
All viruses mutate. COVID-19 is no different and there have been reports in media recently about new strains of the virus.
This does not mean the vaccines will not be effective on new variants.
Evidence tells us that the COVID-19 vaccines will still be effective against these new variants.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will also closely look at this as part of their approval and monitoring processes.
It may mean people need booster shots like tetanus and whooping cough or it may mean we need to be vaccinated again – like we are for the flu vaccine each year.
Researchers are still investigating this, but they do know the virus has not mutated enough to make current vaccines ineffective.
All the vaccines that are currently approved for use in Australia and other countries have demonstrated they are highly effective in preventing severe illness from COVID-19.
Are COVID-19 vaccines mandatory in Australia?
Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary – as are all vaccinations in Australia – and people maintain the option to choose.
This will apply to any COVID-19 vaccination that may become available.
There may be circumstances in the future, however where there may be border entry or re-entry requirements that are conditional on proof of vaccination.
Can COVID-19 vaccines give you COVID-19?
None of the approved vaccines in Australia contain the live virus. This means they cannot give you COVID-19.
Some of the side effects from COVID-19 vaccinations, such as fever and fatigue can mimic the symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.
It usually takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity (protection against the virus that causes COVID-19) after full vaccination.
That means it’s possible a person could be infected with COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and still get sick.
It is important to see your health professional if you think this may be the case.
Do people who have had COVID-19 and recovered need to get vaccinated?
People who have had COVID-19 and recovered should still be vaccinated.
The protection someone gains from having COVID-19 varies from person to person.
Because this virus is new, experts don’t yet know how long any natural immunity might last.
Even if you have already had COVID-19, you should still get the COVID-19 vaccine when you can.
You should discuss any treatments you had with your doctor before you get vaccinated.
Australia has also been fortunate in having low numbers of COVID-19 infections and this means that the community as a whole has no immunity.
This is why vaccination is so important to protect people from severe disease.
Do COVID-19 vaccines cause autoimmune diseases?
Autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis, are chronic (long-term) illnesses where our immune systems attack our own cells.
There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines can cause autoimmune diseases.
Are COVID-19 vaccines not effective?
The vaccines have been thoroughly tested by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and found to be effective.
Clinical trials of both vaccines also indicate their effectiveness is very good.
As other countries around the world progress with their rollouts, more and more data is becoming available that shows these vaccines are both highly effective when it comes to a real world situation.
New information from the United Kingdom for example, shows that both these vaccines significantly reduce severe COVID-19 in older adults.
This adds to the growing evidence that shows both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are working and are highly effective in protecting people against severe illness, hospitalisation and death.
That is the aim of Australia’s vaccination strategy and people can be confident in either vaccine.
Does the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine contain animal DNA?
The AstraZeneca vaccine uses a chimpanzee adenovirus vaccine vector. This is a harmless, weakened adenovirus that usually causes the common cold in chimpanzees.
The adenovirus vaccine vector, known as ChAdOx1, was chosen as the most suitable vaccine technology for a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine as it has been shown to generate a strong immune response from one dose in other vaccines.
It has been genetically changed so that it is impossible for it to grow in humans.
This also makes it safer to give to children, the elderly and anyone with a pre-existing condition such as diabetes.
Chimpanzee adenoviral vectors are a very well-studied vaccine type, having been used safely in thousands of subjects.
Find out more about what is in the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Will the flu vaccine protect me against getting COVID-19?
Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 are not the same.
While they’re both viral infections, the viruses belong to two separate groups. The regular flu vaccination does not provide immunity to, or protection from, COVID-19.
Similarly, a COVID-19 vaccine will not provide protection from the flu.
Read ATAGI’s advice on influenza and COVID-19 vaccines.
- Information sourced from health.gov.au
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