This semester, PRSSA’s student run public relations firm, PRi, has had the wonderful opportunity to work with the McLean County Health Department as their client. This has not only given members more involvement and leadership opportunities, but it has also allowed us access to professionals in the healthcare field who have taught us about myths associated with COVID-19. Below are, not all, but a few of the most widespread misconceptions about vaccines, testing, and other topics related to COVID-19.
Myth #1 - The COVID-19 vaccine contains a microchip.
The ole’ microchip myth. This has been a myth associated with a variety of vaccines, and the COVID-19 vaccine is no exception. The overall conception is that there is a microchip in the vaccine that will allow you to be tracked as well as alter your DNA. According to the CDC, not only is this an exaggeration of the truth, but it is a completely false rumor. Their official response was, “No. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips. Vaccines are developed to fight against disease and are not administered to track your movement. Vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.” You may have also learned the basics of how vaccines work in your junior high science class.
Myth #2 - Herd immunity is achievable if we let the virus spread through the population.
For this myth, we are relying on information from the Mayo Clinic Health System. So, what is herd immunity? Herd immunity is when a large portion of the population or community becomes immune to a certain disease making the spread from person-to-person unlikely. This results in the entire community being protected. Now, we will begin debunking this myth. First,
there is and never was any proof that being infected with COVID-19 will protect you from being infected again in the future. Since the virus does not create immunity, herd immunity is not achievable. Let’s assume for just a moment that herd immunity is attainable. Even then, experts estimate that 70% of the global population, almost 200 million people would have to recover from COVID-19 for herd immunity to even be considered as a possibility. So, the real question here is are you willing to risk 200 million lives to try and achieve something that might not even be possible. Let’s just get vaccinated so we don’t have to find out.
Myth 3 - COVID-19 is the same as the seasonal flu.
COVID-19 and the flu are both respiratory diseases that are the result of an infectious virus. There are also a few similar symptoms, such as coughing, fatigue, and headaches. These are also symptoms of the common cold, anemia, and caffeine withdrawals. Basically, the similarities among symptoms mean relatively little. This is where the similarities between COVID-19 and the flu end. While the flu is usually caught very quickly because symptoms typically appear between one and four days, COVID-19 symptoms may not be present for up to 14 days. This means that you could be walking around spreading the COVID-19 virus for weeks without knowing it. It doesn’t help that the COVID-19 virus is more contagious and spreads faster than the influenza virus. Additionally, blood clots and multi-system inflammatory syndrome are fatal symptoms associated with COVID-19 but not the flu. In short, COVID-19 and the flu are not the same thing.
The world has changed a lot since the introduction of COVID-19. It is scientifically proven that wearing a mask reduces the risk of being infected with COVID-19 up to 70%. Likewise, being fully vaccinated reduces the transmission of COVID-19 by 71%. Let’s all protect our family, friends, and ourselves by recognizing these myths for what they are: myths.
PRecisely PR is the blog of the Illinois State University Chapter of the PRSSA. We write about Chapter events, the public relations industry, member profiles, and more.