Are they experimental? Can they alter DNA? Experts tackle lingering coronavirus vaccine fears.


When the coronavirus vaccines first started rolling out in December, LisaRose Blanchette had doubts. To her, it felt like the shots, particularly the messenger RNA vaccines, had been “rushed through production,” and she didn’t trust that they would be safe or effective.

“At the time, I was feeling very insecure about them,” said Blanchette, 56, a teacher in Phoenix. But she started doing her own research and soon realized her initial concerns had been misconceptions.

“I needed to understand the mRNA vaccine. I needed to understand how long scientists had been working on it. I needed to understand that it was divorced from the politics that I had been reading about,” she said. She got vaccinated as soon as she was eligible.

But millions of Americans are still hesitant or altogether unwilling to receive any of the three coronavirus vaccines authorized in the United States. While 11 percent of people who remain unvaccinated say they will definitely get a shot, 34 percent say they definitely will not, according to a recent poll conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. This reluctance, experts say, is partly fueled by rampant misinformation promoted by anti-vaccination organizations and individuals, which has undermined trust in science and generated skepticism about the authorized vaccines.

“Even the people who are fence-sitters or are fairly reasonable people are going to say, ’Wait, how come there’s so much controversy?’” said L.J Tan, chief strategy officer with the Immunization Action Coalition. “The problem about that is that the controversy is entirely created by the misinformation.”

Here are some of the questions that remain because of misconceptions and what experts have to say about them.

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