COVID-19 Myth-Busting, Part 4

(via the American Federation of Teachers)


Dangerous misinformation campaigns are fueling skepticism and hesitance around the COVID-19 vaccines, a situation that both prevents achievement of herd immunity and increases the possibility that new variants will be deadly to even the vaccinated. The truth is that 99.5 percent of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths happening now are among the unvaccinated. As vaccination numbers lag and COVID-19 infections surge in many communities, it is imperative that AFT members have the most accurate and up-to-date information about the vaccines.


The following is intended to set the record straight about some myths and misconceptions:


MYTH: Variants are no different from the original virus.


FACT: Viruses, such as the one that causes COVID-19, change constantly through mutation. When a virus has one or more new mutations, it’s called a variant of the original virus. Some of these variants may enable the coronavirus to spread faster from person to person, and more infections can result in more people getting very sick or dying. About 99 percent of COVID-19 deaths are now occurring in unvaccinated people. The more people who are unvaccinated and infected, the more chances there are for variants to occur. Limiting the spread of the virus through getting vaccinated gives the virus fewer chances to change and spread. It also reduces the spread of more infectious variants if they do occur.

MYTH: People are just trying to scare us with talk about a delta variant.

FACT: The delta variant is a highly contagious form of COVID-19 and is the dominant variant in the U.S. It is more transmissible than the common cold and the flu, as well as the viruses that cause Ebola, smallpox, MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome)—and an internal CDC document called the delta variant as contagious as chickenpox. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes are happening in places with low vaccination rates, and virtually all hospitalizations and deaths have been among the unvaccinated.


MYTH: I heard the rise in cases is because of increased testing, so we should just stop testing so much.


FACT: The rise in infections is not related to increased testing. The number of positive results from the tests performed is of greater concern. This means that the virus is quickly spreading in our communities. COVID-19 testing is critical, as it helps people make decisions to self-isolate and guides healthcare providers’ decisions for medical treatment. Widespread testing also allows local health departments to monitor the spread of the virus, and make recommendations to schools and businesses.


MYTH: COVID has no serious long-term effects.


FACT: Although most people with COVID-19 recover completely within a few weeks, even those who had mild versions of the disease can continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery. These people are often referred to as ‘long haulers.” Older people and those with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms; but even young, otherwise healthy people can feel unwell for weeks to months after infection. The most common signs and symptoms that can linger include fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, and joint and chest pain. In addition, organ damage can occur to the brain, heart and lungs. Much is still unknown about how COVID-19 will affect people over time.