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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE COMPOSITION AND EFFECT OF THE VACCINES

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  • Myth: Vaccines are not effective because vaccinated people get infected and spread the virus.

Reality: A fully vaccinated person is 4 times less likely to catch the coronavirus than a non-vaccinated person, says Krista Fischer, the member of the Science Advisory Board and the professor of mathematical statistics in the University of Tartu. Her calculations are based on the COVID-19 data from July and August.

One of the main objectives of vaccination is to protect yourself from falling ill seriously — non-vaccinated people are 8 times more likely to fall ill seriously after catching COVID-19. Furthermore, vaccination does help to stop the spread of the virus, not just decreasing the illness period and heaviness.

People, who’ve had COVID-19, and are also fully vaccinated, are 20 times less likely to catch the virus again. You need to keep in mind, that being ill with COVID-19 involves major risks. For instance, the average of people who need hospitalization because of COVID-19 is 7%. About 14% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients die, survivors often have permanent health complications.

On the 21st of September, at least 749 256 people have had the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, so 66,2% of the adults in Estonia are vaccinated. On the same day, 154 people with COVID-19 were still in hospitals, and 110 of them were not vaccinated. So, about one-third of Estonian adult population is non-vaccinated, and three-quarter of the people in hospitals ae non-vaccinated.

  • Myth: COVID-19 vaccines clog up blood vessels.

Reality: mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 (Pfizer and Moderna) are not related to blood clots. In Estonia, Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines are used.

All safety signals are analysed regularly in huge volumes of data. Thrombosis or thromboembolic are not more common in vaccinated people than they are in non-vaccinated people.

It’s important to keep in mind, that when falling ill with COVID-19, the risk of blood clots is 16-20 times higher than when being healthy. One of the objectives of vaccination against COVID-19 is preventing falling ill seriously, sh avoiding blood clots during illness. The selling licences of COVID-19 vaccines COVID-19 were given based on data. It’s common that clinical researches continue after the medication is already in the market (it’s also like this with other medications).

  • Myth: By the data of the national vaccine safety surveillance program in USA – Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System VAERS, almost 1000 people have died after the vaccination.

Reality: VAERS database includes all reports that are sent, it’s not the database of proved side effects or deaths caused by vaccines.

The entries to the database are not proved, so it has cases that are not related with medications or vaccination.

Myth: The death toll in care homes has been going up since the beginning of vaccinations, and there’s an increase in health problems.

Reality: It’s not confirmed that the death toll in care homes is related to COVID-vaccinations. However, there have been multiple outbreaks of COVID-19, in where many people have lost lives.

  • Myth: With particular vaccines, pathogens are transmitted into humans, and they stay there and cause health problems.

Reality: Vaccines doesn’t leave pathogens into humans.

Vaccines that are based on mRNA and virus vector do not have pathogens in them, only the information in a form of a DNA or mRNA on the surface of the virus that is essential to produce antigens.

DNA in the vaccine is in some other virus (usually adenovirus), but these viruses are unable to reproduce themselves. It’s important to know that mRNA nor DNA packed into adenovirus don’t bind with the human DNA. Some viruses may do that (like HI-virus) but adenoviruses don’t do that.

  • Statement: COVID-19 vaccines contain toxic ingredients

Reality: There are no toxins in COVID-10 vaccines that are life-threatening to humans.

All ingredients in vaccines and other medications are chosen carefully. The amount is kept minimum to have the effect. All ingredients are proved to be safe, and the suitability is assessed during the safety review of issuing the selling licence.

All COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of the production technology, have shown good safety results. Although, the moderate reactions (soreness, swelling, redness) in the injection area are quite common, and so are the general reactions (fever, chills, ill-like feeling, muscle and joint pain, swelling and pain in lymph nodes), these side effects are short-lived and not considered serious or life-threatening.

The only serious side effects are allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a well-known side effect of vaccination long before COVID-19 vaccines, and this is the reason you should stay in the vaccination area for 15 minutes after you’ve had your vaccination. There are no other known serious side effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

  • Statement: COVID-19 vaccines include metals that are dangerous to humans.

Reality: COVID-19 vaccines that are used in Estonia, don’t contain aluminium or other metals.

Some vaccines (for instance diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, and Infarix against hepatitis B) contain a very small amount of aluminium to strengthen the immune response. Large doses of aluminium injected into the vein would be toxic to nervous cells, indeed. The doses of aluminium in vaccines is very small (less than 1 mg per dose), and vaccines are injected into muscles not veins, therefore harming nerves is excluded.

  • Statement: COVID-19 vaccines contain aborted fetal cells.

Reality: COVID-19 vaccines used in Estonia don’t contain human cells.

In mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna), aborted fetal cells are not used in any part of the vaccine production process.

In the production of adenovirus-based vaccines (AstraZeneca and Jannsen), in one stage, fetal cells are used to grow viruses, but these cells are taken decades ago, and since then, reproduced in labs thousands of times. There are no cells in the final product — cellular DNA is broken down during the production process, and the vaccine is purified, so that cellular debris and growth reagents are removed.

  • Statement: The mRNA or DNA in the vaccine binds with human DNA.

Reality: It doesn’t bind.

As the impact of the COVID-19 vaccine, human body starts producing spike proteins of the coronavirus for a short period of time. Because of it, the immune system learns to recognize the virus when it attacks.

mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) contain precise instructions (mRNA molecules), from which human cells know how to produce spike proteins. mRNA molecules themselves never make it to the core of the cell, where DNA is located.

Vaccines based on adenoviruses (AstraZeneca, Jannsen) consist of more generic instructions (DNA molecules), based on what more precise instructions (mRNA molecules) are constructed in the core of the cells to produce spike proteins.

Therefore, with vaccines based on adenoviruses, temporarily, the DNA in the vaccine that codes the spike proteins of the coronavirus reaches the core of our cell. It doesn’t mean that the DNA of the spike protein binds with our DNA. Adenovirus doesn’t have the molecular tools to do that, also the strain of the adenovirus in the vaccine is altered so, it can’t reproduce in our cells.

  • Myth: Women who’d like to have a baby, are expecting or breastfeeding, shouldn’t vaccinate themselves.

The protection of the vaccine weighs all the risks that are related with the vaccination even for the women who’d like to get pregnant, are expecting or breastfeeding.

If an expecting woman catches coronavirus and falls ill, the risk for the premature birth increases, also the likelihood that this woman needs an intensive care. Vaccination decreases those risks remarkably. If a breastfeeding mother gets vaccinated, the baby also gets some protection against COVID-19. There’s no biological reason why covid-vaccines could be dangerous for pregnant women, fetus, or kids on breastfeeding.

Animal testing has also confirmed that. Numerous doses injected to rats didn’t bring any direct or indirect harm to the development of the fetus, gestation, giving birth, or the after-birth period.

International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), where Estonian Gynaecologists` Society is a member, supports vaccination against COVID-19 for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as long as the risks of being infected, the duration of the pregnancy, the health conditions of the mother, etc are considered.

  • Myth: Vaccination can cause infertility.

COVID-19 vaccines don’t cause infertility or the decrease of fertility.

The mRNA from the vaccines does not enter the cell nucleus or interact with the DNA at all, so it doesn’t affect fertility or future kids in any ways. To clarify the risk of infertility, there’s been animal testing, and in these, fertility wasn’t affected in any ways.

However, falling ill with COVID-19 may decrease the fertility in males, because COVID-19 side effects include orchitis and the decreased quality of sperm.

  • Myth: People who are vaccinated, radiate and are able to affect the fertility or periods of others.

There’s no evidence to that people radiate after getting vaccinated or could be able to affect fertility of others. Estonian Agency of Medicine has reports of temporary menstruation cycle disruptions. It’s very likely that these disruptions are caused by a temporary stress, temperature or similar reactions in the body after the vaccination.

Myth: A lot of miscarriages in Estonia are caused by AstraZeneca vaccine.

Estonian Agency of Medicine hasn’t received a single report that AstraZeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine has caused a miscarriage. By the world data available, the occurrence of miscarriages for vaccinated and non-vaccinated women is similar.

  • Extra dose

The extra dose is for people with severe immune defiance, who aren’t getting enough protection with two doses (one with Janssen). These are people with transplanted organs or cancer patients who get immune-suppressive treatment.

By the decision of the European Medicines Agency, the extra dose can be done with Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech) and Spikevax (Moderna) no sooner than 28 days after the second dose. Giving extra doses for people who need it, has already started in Estonia.

Read more, who need extra doses (the document is in Estonian): Advice for healthcare workers about additional dose from COVID-19 Vaccine 

  • Booster dose

Booster jabs might become necessary for everybody after some time period because of the weakened immunity. A booster dose might be considered 6 months after the second dose. No matter the previous COVID-19 vaccinations, the committee recommends doing booster jabs with the Pfizer/BioNTech.

Estonian experts advise having a booster jab not sooner than 6 months after finishing the vaccination, it’s recommended to people 65 years of age and older, and to all people in the care come at least 18 years of age.

Booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will become available for people working in the healthcare, education and social sectors, also after 6 months has passed from becoming fully vaccinated the first time.

The rest of the adult population will have the access to the booster jab after 8 months of their vaccination.

Last updated: 13. October 2021, 09:23

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