During a joint COVID-19 update this week, Owensboro Health Chief Medical Officer Francis DuFrayne joined Judge-Executive Al Mattingly as the pair debunked a few conspiracies surrounding the vaccine, some of which have circulated across the area.
Mattingly said he’d come across a number of false accusations being spread on Facebook. One of those includes a theory that the messenger RNA being used in the COVID-19 vaccine changes the DNA in a person’s body.
“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Mattingly said. “That just tells me these folks need to do a heck of a lot more reading because, really, the messenger RNA is in there to make a protein that is associated with the COVID-19 virus so that your body will produce the antibody that will destroy it. The messenger RNA has nothing to do with your DNA, and your DNA is what makes you who you are.”
DuFrayne agreed, saying Mattingly was “exactly right” about the technology used in the COVID-19 vaccines. The messenger RNA, he added, was “a small piece of genetic material from the virus.”
Another theory is based on the belief that the COVID-19 virus is injected into the body. However, the COVID-19 vaccine does not work that way.
DuFrayne used the polio vaccine as an example to highlight the technological and scientific leaps that had been made over the years. The polio vaccine, he said, required the polio virus to be injected into the body and killed.
“Now we don’t have to do that,” DuFrayne said. “We can get it down to a very small piece of messenger RNA that induces your body to create a protein that we call an antibody. The antibodies that are now in your system because of the vaccine will now join onto the spiked protein from the virus. That virus will sit in the receptor so that it can’t [enter into your cells] … this vaccine actually dumbs it up so it can’t go anywhere.”
According to the Center for Disease Control: “mRNA vaccines contain material from the virus that causes COVID-19 that gives our cells instructions for how to make a harmless protein that is unique to the virus. After our cells make copies of the protein, they destroy the genetic material from the vaccine. Our bodies recognize that the protein should not be there and build T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if we are infected in the future.”
Also according to the CDC, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then get sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.
Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.