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Each August organizations across the country take time to recognize and promote the important impact that immunizations have on individual and community health, such as the eradication of smallpox and the prevention of contagious diseases such as Measles and Polio.
While we celebrate the advancement of vaccine science, it is also important to recognize and address common myths and stereotypes surrounding vaccines. Below we have highlighted some popular myths that are often promoted on social media, creating a pipeline of dangerous misinformation.
Myth #1: Many vaccine-preventable diseases have been virtually eradicated in my country. Why do I still need to vaccinate my child?
Although numerous diseases have been nearly eradicated in many countries, there are still places where those diseases are prevalent. Because of this variance, travelers can unintentionally and unknowingly spread these diseases to another country where there is a high population of unvaccinated individuals. Vaccines are necessary because they not only protect us, they protect those around us as well.
Myth #2: Vaccines cause the diseases they are trying to prevent.
This is false. No vaccine can be 100% effective; however, to combat infection from the disease and ensure that vaccines are safe, the virus or bacteria is either killed or weakened which allows humans to develop immunity to the disease. When your body recognizes a germ as “foreign,” it responds by making antibodies that help destroy the germ. Then, your body remembers the germ and how to destroy it in the future. Since vaccines are the dead or weakened versions of the germs, our bodies can easily destroy them.
Myth #3: Vaccines can cause harmful side effects and other illnesses. *
Despite beliefs that vaccines can cause harmful side effects and other unrelated illnesses, vaccines are very safe! Side effects might include a fever or sore arm, but these can be controlled by taking over-the-counter pain relief medications.
*Side effects can be more common or harmful if you have allergies and/or are immunocompromised. Always check with your healthcare provider if you are at-risk.
Myth #4: COVID-19 vaccines will make me sick with the virus.
Just like other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine contains a dead or weakened version of the virus that allows your body to develop immunity and remember the germ. And, while there may be side effects such as a fever, those side effects are actually positive signs that your body is building a resistance to COVID-19.
Myth #5: COVID-19 vaccines cause variants of the disease.
Just like any other virus, new variants happen because the virus is constantly mutating (changing or altering itself). Importantly, there are more opportunities for viruses to mutate as they are passed from person to person.
VNA Grantees on the Frontline:
Over the years—and more so since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—many VNA Foundation grantee partners have played critical roles in vaccine education, awareness, and distribution. Notably, the Chicago Vaccine Brigade, started by Public Health Nurses, provides COVID-19 vaccines and education at healthcare and community-based organizations, aiming to promote an equitable vaccination process in Chicago. You can read our recent blog post to learn more about the Brigade’s work.
EverThrive Illinois is a leader in vaccine education and promotion across Illinois. It provides community-centered education to address the root causes of vaccine hesitancy and mistrust of the healthcare system due to issues like systemic racism, and in the coming year it will launch a multi-sector “Equitable Vaccine Advisory Council.” EverThrive also publishes vaccination resources targeted toward various age groups and populations. In addition to an Understanding COVID-19 Resource Page and a Flu Shot Resource Page, EverThrive recently published its Recommendations for Increasing COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Among Black/African American Chicagoans.
Illinois’ free and charitable clinics, and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), also participate in vaccine-related outreach events, screen for risk and infection, provide education and vaccinations, and more.
VNA Foundation is pleased to support our partners leading crucial work to protect community members from catching and spreading life-threatening diseases, and to dispel the myths that prevent people from leading their healthiest lives.
For more information about vaccines, visit:
(Sources: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html and World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/)