June 16, 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine Education Corner -
Viral Shedding: Myths and Facts
Recently, there has been a lot of misinformation circulating about “shedding” of the spike protein from those who are vaccinated with an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna). False claims include that this “shedding” is causing the unvaccinated to become sick with COVID-like symptoms or experience changes in menstrual cycles. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services made this the topic of last week's Education Corner series to address this important topic, as well as provide some talking points and resources on this issue.  

Question: Do COVID-19 vaccines cause viral shedding?
NO! COVID-19 vaccines cannot give someone COVID-19 as the vaccines do NOT contain live virus. There isn’t a biological path for a vaccinated person to “shed” the COVID-19 virus spike protein to those around them.

First, the term “shed” was used in the early days of the pandemic to describe people transmitting or emitting coronavirus particles, when they were infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The term “shed” was used as the scientists would measure “viral shedding” to try and pinpoint the time when sick individuals are the most infectious. The study of viral shedding is helpful to understand how infectious diseases spread, and it is necessary in determining appropriate actions needed for virus mitigation. Although the term “shedding” has been used to study the virus, this does not apply to COVID-19 vaccines.

The COVID-19 vaccines do not contain the live virus that causes COVID-19; therefore, they cannot make someone sick with COVID-19. During a COVID-19 infection, the entire virus is produced, but the COVID-19 vaccines only introduce nucleic acid related to one viral protein, the spike protein, so no other genes or proteins are available to produce viral particles. The COVID-19 vaccines give instructions to teach the cells in the body how to make that one viral protein, or even just a piece of protein. This triggers an immune response inside the body. After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them.

The immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects a person from getting infected if the real virus enters their body. The messenger RNA, or mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) and the adenovirus viral vector vaccine (Janssen, Johnson & Johnson) prompt the body, through different mechanisms, to produce one of the proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus called the spike protein.
  • The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines use a chemical messenger, or mRNA, to tell people’s cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of COVID-19 virus without replicating like the actual virus.
  • The Janssen, Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a weakened version of a harmless adenovirus to deliver instructions to cells to make coronavirus spike proteins that cannot replicate.

The body’s cells do not have the directions to make the whole COVID-19 virus. Therefore, it is impossible for the vaccines to result in the production of infectious virus particles.

In addition, when a person is infected with COVID-19, replication starts in the nasal cavity. If the immune system is unable to control replication, the virus may spread to other parts of the body and infect cells in other locations. This is why some people may be asymptomatic at the beginning, but then after about a week, they get more severely ill. The mRNA and adenovirus-vector vaccines are processed near the injection site, so the spike protein is never in an area of the body from which it could be shed, such as the nose.

For these reasons, viral shedding can occur when someone is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 but getting a COVID-19 vaccine does not cause viral shedding.


If you have any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccination, you may always reach out to us at CHECCimms@michigan.gov.
Study: Novavax Covid-19 Vaccine Is 90% Effective,
Including Against Variants
Clinical trial findings show that Novavax Inc.'s candidate coronavirus vaccine is 90.4 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 and 100 percent effective against moderate and severe disease. Nearly 30,000 U.S. and Mexican adults participated in the study, which also demonstrated the vaccine's viability against mutant strains of the virus—including the alpha variant that is now predominant in the United States. The Novavax vaccine was also generally safe and well tolerated, with pain and tenderness at the injection site, headache, fatigue and muscle aches emerging as the most common adverse effects.

Although it still needs time to ensure its manufacturing processes are up to par, it is likely that the company will be next in line for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance of a COVID-19 vaccine. Like the already authorized Pfizer and Moderna products, the Novavax vaccine is administered in two doses, and its efficacy is just shy of the 94 percent mark observed with those formulations. Meanwhile, it tops the overall 66 percent efficacy of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which also is authorized for use in the United States.

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Noontime Knowledge Webinar:
Talking about COVID-19 Vaccines
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be hosting “Noontime Knowledge” Thursday. June 17 at noon. The topic for this session will be “Talking about COVID-19 Vaccines.” This will be a 15-20-minute update with 10-15 minutes for questions.  

The following resources are relevant to this week’s update:

Password: 8D0Ndu
  • One tap mobile: +16366513141, 638846# US Toll; +18774029753, 638846# US Toll-free
  • Dial: USA 636 651 3141; USA 877 402 9753 (US Toll Free); Conference Code: 638846
Please see this additional flyer for more details. This opportunity is open to health care workers and COVID-19 providers, as well as those who work or volunteer in health care. You do not need to register ahead of time and no CEUs will be offered. 

Thank you for all your hard work to protect Michiganders from vaccine-preventable diseases!
Previous Noontime Knowledge Webinar

The “Noontime Knowledge” COVID-19 Vaccine update on Thursday June 3, covered “COVID-19 Vaccine Storage and Handing Updates and Review.” For those who would like a review or for those who were not able to join, the webinar recording is available at the link below.

The recording, slides and Q & A ( are available at our webpage www.michigan.gov/covidvaccineprovider Webinars Noontime Knowledge COVID-19 Vaccine Storage and Handling Updates and Review

Below is a list of resources that were provided during the webinar.

For questions that were not addressed during the webinar, please email checcimms@michigan.gov. Please know that MDHHS is receiving a large volume of questions every day and will address questions as soon as they can. If a response has not been received within 48 hours, please resubmit your question with a note that this is a second request.