The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners’ Medical Director Dr Bryan Betty wouldn’t attempt to advise you on nail art, contouring, or the most popular activewear brand.
And you shouldn’t be taking advice on COVID-19 from someone who isn’t medically trained.
When it comes to the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Betty is urging people to think more carefully about where and who they are getting their information from.
"While patients have every right to, and should, ask questions about side-effects and interactions with medication, GPs across New Zealand have reported an increase in the number of patients coming to them with vaccine hesitancy because of what they’ve read online.
"Doctors, such as specialist GPs, have had many years of training and understand how medications work, and their effects. Ask us your questions, not the influencer you follow on Instagram or TikTok.
"The sheer amount of misinformation that is being amplified online is staggering and the people who are propagating these myths are actually causing more anxiety and harm. Misinformation is undermining the vaccination rollout.
"It is easy to look at something like microchipping and say it is in the realm of conspiracy theories, however unsubstantiated rumour such as the vaccine causing infertility, which has no basis whatsoever, is in the realm of pseudoscience and more difficult to counter.
"We need vaccination rates to be as high as possible to protect us if there is another outbreak because we have seen just how fast Delta can spread in the community. If we want to get back to some type of new normal, high levels of
vaccination will help us get there."
Dr Betty commends the continued work of those in the health industry who are going above and beyond to boost the awareness about the COVID-19 vaccination using reliable, evidence-based research.
Debunking some common COVID-19 vaccination myths
1. The vaccine causes infertility
There is data showing no difference in the fertility rate among vaccinated and unvaccinated people. This myth seems to stem from a misreading of a study where rats were given 1,333 times the vaccine dose, and a study claiming there is similarity between the viral spike protein and a protein in placentas.
2. The vaccine makes you magnetic
There are no metallic ingredients in the vaccine, and it cannot cause you to become magnetic.
3. The vaccine is a microchip
None of the COVID-19 vaccines in development contain software or microchips and cannot be used to track you.
4. The vaccine rollout is a cover to collect our DNA
When you receive the vaccine, nothing is taken away from your body.
5. The vaccine can alter your cellular DNA
The vaccine uses a fragment of mRNA (messenger RNA), which instructs your body to make an immune response against COVID-19. The mRNA does not do anything to your body or alter your DNA.
6. The vaccine causes cancer
No, to cause cancer, a vaccine would need to interfere with the DNA - in particular the genes that control your cell division. There is nothing in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination that can do this.
7. The vaccines are still experimental
There is a misconception that because the trial end date is in 2023 that the vaccine is still "experimental". The endpoint is in 2023 so clinical trial participants (who are a valuable source of data) can be followed up for as long as possible - which is common practice in clinical trials. To date, millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered, and it is one of the most tracked vaccines in history.
8. Vaccine related hospitalisations and deaths are being covered up
On any given day, even before COVID-19, many people get admitted to hospital for all sorts of reasons. Hospitalisations and deaths will also occur in the days following vaccination, again for all sorts of reasons. In order to figure out if the vaccine had a role in this hospitalisation or death, there are rigorous methods in place that assess the causality.