The Truth About COVID-19 Vaccines

covid vaccine

December 02, 2021

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Jerry Zuckerman, M.D.
Plenty of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines continues to circulate online and on social media.  “False and misleading information about COVID-19 and vaccines seems to be spreading on social media, and it’s incredibly damaging to our ability as a country to get the pandemic under control,” says Jerry Zuckerman, M.D., vice president of infection prevention and control at Hackensack Meridian Health.

Here, we debunk some of the more common claims.

covid vaccine infographic

Claim: Vaccines don’t work because fully vaccinated people are still getting infected.

The Truth: Vaccine breakthrough cases are to be expected. COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective and are a vital tool to move past this pandemic, but no vaccine is 100-percent effective at preventing illness. Some fully vaccinated people will get sick, but evidence shows that vaccination can make illness less severe for those who are fully vaccinated but still get infected. 


Claim: Vaccinated people are still getting sick and dying. 

The Truth: Unvaccinated people were 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The risk of infection is lower, and the risk of death and hospitalization is remarkably lower, for fully vaccinated people. 


Claim: COVID-19 vaccines are killing more people than the virus.

The Truth: While the COVID-19 vaccines produce side effects, the most common ones, like fever and pain at the injection site, are relatively mild and short-lived compared to the risks of actual infection. 

covid vaccine infographic

Claim: COVID-19 has a “99.97 percent survival rate.”

The Truth: There is not a standard COVID-19 “survival rate” for every person. Each person’s risk of dying from COVID-19 depends on many factors, including age and underlying health conditions (such as cancer, obesity and emphysema). In addition, citing a survival rate of COVID-19 is misleading because it doesn’t take into account the long-term and persistent health problems that many survivors experience. While overall mortality may be low, the mortality rate for those hospitalized increases significantly to 10–15 percent.  


Claim: COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility issues and pregnancy problems.

The Truth: Outcomes for pregnancy and births (premature delivery, miscarriage or birth defects) are no different in vaccinated individuals compared to the general population. There is also no scientific evidence that vaccination impacts fertility in either females or males.


Claim: VAERS data shows that thousands of people have died from getting a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The Truth: The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a system where anyone can report a side or adverse event after vaccination. Reporting an event does not mean it is caused by the vaccine. Rather, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors the reports and investigates any trends, including deaths, to determine if they are caused by the vaccine.  There is no evidence linking the COVID-19 vaccine to an increase in deaths.

In monitoring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, the (CDC) uses multiple programs, not just one:

  • VAERS, to which anyone can report adverse events (if something is reported as a significant event, like a heart attack, VAERS would first see how often it is being reported and then, for select cases, speak to the individual and providers to determine causality).
  • The V-safe program, which is a smartphone-based tool that allows vaccinated individuals to alert the CDC if they have any side effects after getting the vaccine.
  • The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) program monitors  insurer databases for adverse events after vaccination.

“There is so much surveillance for adverse events being conducted by the CDC and others that anything that appears even potentially related to the vaccines would be easily identified and subsequently investigated,” Dr. Zuckerman says.

He concludes: “It’s important that we all do our part to share information about COVID-19 and the vaccines from trustworthy sources like the CDC and your health care providers.”

covid vaccine infographic

Next Steps & Resources:


The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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