COMMENTARY: COVID misinformation

By Dr. Suma Manjunath, Special to

Summertime, and the livin’ ain’t easy in Texas as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise to record levels.

Despite the increasing availability and access to COVID-19 vaccines, only about 71% of eligible Texans 12 years of age and older are fully vaccinated, according to Texas Department of State Health Services data. A recent analysis by The Texas Tribune found some of the neighborhoods in Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar and Travis counties with the highest Hispanic and Black populations are some of the lowest vaccinated areas.

Texans remain hesitant for various reasons, including misinformation about the virus and the vaccines.

Misinformation leads to mistrust in the Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization process.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out researchers did not cut corners on safety and efficacy and continue to use new and established monitoring systems to ensure safety.

Another common concern is any potential side effect. Side effects with all vaccines are normal, according to the CDC, such as with the flu shot. Side effects mean your body is building protection and they should go away in a few days. If they do not, see your healthcare provider.

Those pushing government conspiracies contribute to lifethreatening hesitations. The vaccines are just vaccines, not tracking microchips. Bill Gates, cell phones and government agencies cannot track us and microchips that cannot fit through the end of a needle.

One group infamously proclaimed the vaccines turn us into walking magnets.

This also is false, not just because common sense tells us so, but also because the vaccine does not contain aluminum (generally speaking, aluminum is not magnetic) or other materials that attract metal objects. And, the vaccines do not contain aborted fetal tissue.

Folks also have concerns about the vaccines causing infertility. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says those claims are unfounded and are not supported by xposts spread the myth that the virus’ spike protein has a protein similar to the syncitin-1 protein expressed in human placenta. Not so. They are not the same.

And if you heard the vaccines will alter your DNA and maybe mutate you and your future kids, well, you were misinformed. The vaccines do not interact in any way with your DNA.

Every day one person’s hesitation may result in another victim of COVID-19 or one of its variants. We need community immunity against the virus, which means 70%-90% of the individuals in your community are fully vaccinated. The vaccine protects you and those who cannot get the vaccine because of age, underlying medical conditions, or other reasons.

Help us end the pandemic. A vaccine is waiting for you. Ask to get yours today.

Suma Manjunath, M.D., FAAP, is a pediatrician and managing physician of the Travel Medicine Clinics at Kelsey Seybold Clinic in Houston.