Originally Posted: MAY 10, 21 13:52 ET
By Sandee LaMotte, CNN
(CNN) – This is the claim that is suddenly everywhere: the Covid-19 vaccine will make women infertile.
“No! You don’t know science!” a woman posted on Twitter in response to naysayers. “The vaccine creates an immune response to the placenta and makes a woman sterile! They know it and that’s the goal! It’s an unstable global sterilization program.”
It turns out that this unfounded fear is not new, said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, vaccine expert and pediatrician, head of the pediatric infectious diseases division at Stanford University School of Medicine, who is currently leading vaccine trials. in children under 12 years old.
“Oh my God, people have said that about every vaccine since I can remember correctly,” said Maldonado, who also chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Infectious Diseases committee. “There is no evidence that this vaccine will affect development or fertility.”
Even those who do not consider themselves anti-vaxxers are expressing concern. As one woman shared on social media, “the protein that the vaccine covid codes for is similar to a protein on the placenta, so people are concerned that it could cause infertility.”
Parents are also expressing concern, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to approve the Covid-19 vaccine for ages 12 to 15 this week.
To set the record straight, CNN reached out to Dr. Richard Beigi, who sits on the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Expert Working Group on Immunization, Infectious Diseases and Public Health Preparedness.
The conversation has been edited slightly for clarity.
CNN: Some people are concerned that Covid-19 vaccines may be associated with fertility problems for adult women and also for adolescents – when the vaccine for 12 to 15 year olds becomes available.
Dr Richard Beigi: There has never been a vaccine linked to infertility.
There is no clear scientific reason to believe that the new vaccine would cause fertility problems in adults. Likewise, there is no scientific reason to believe that it would cause fertility problems in adolescents. These are the facts, regardless of the age of the person.
This is a new mRNA vaccine technology used in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, so I can theoretically understand how this would be confusing for some people. But I think the more information we get, the more it shows that these new technologies are extremely effective. And in terms of vaccines, they’re pretty safe.
Pregnancy is now clearly considered a high risk category for Covid-19 infection, as is the case for other respiratory infections like the flu.
You have to weigh the risk of getting an infection against the risk of getting the vaccine, and in my opinion those theoretical vaccine risks are getting lower and lower as we get more data.
CNN: Often people will mention the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, showing five examples of pregnancies related to premature separation of the placenta that occurred within the same time frame as a Covid-19 vaccine.
Beigi: VAERS is basically a system where you report everything that happens to you after a vaccine. Much like the flu after a flu shot, these events were most likely already underway when the women received the vaccines, and then they became clinically recognized after the vaccine was given.
There is no reason to believe that any of these stories are related to the vaccine or caused by the vaccine.
If you read these reports in isolation, you would potentially be very scared. But these VAERS reports aren’t causal – they’re just a coincidence. This is how we know.
Pregnant women were not part of the original clinical trials, but this year more than 100,000 pregnant women received one of the vaccines – mainly the mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer, but also some women received the J&J vaccine.
We know this because 106,000 women who received the vaccine and enrolled in the government v-safe program reported that they were pregnant. Nearly 5,000 of them are closely monitored through the CDC’s vaccine pregnancy registry.
Sometimes pregnancies end with miscarriage or preeclampsia or rupture, and we know it. That’s why we’re looking at larger groups of pregnant women who have taken the vaccine and comparing them to what we already know happens to pregnant women – and at what rates – before we had these vaccines.
As the data comes out what we are now seeing in these thousands of women who have taken the vaccine is that the outcome of their pregnancy is no different from that of the population of pregnant women. who have not received any of the vaccines.
This is very powerful because it shows no signs that there is a major problem and continues to validate what we thought – there is no theoretical reason to believe that these vaccines would be harmful.
CNN: Some people have expressed concern that the spike protein from the novel coronavirus will attach to similar receptors on the placenta and cause infertility.
Beigi: I fully understand that if people read a comment like this it can make them nervous. That’s good, we respect that, and that’s why we talk to our patients about their concerns and advise them.
The clinical data that continues to come out does not validate this issue as a concern. And that’s in addition to the fact that, scientifically, it doesn’t make sense.
The placenta is formed after conception – it actually comes from the tissues of the baby. So by definition, if you’ve formed a placenta, you’re pregnant, you’re not sterile.
It’s a new vaccine, it’s a scary disease, and people are reading these things online, which is very understandable. I think hearing from the thousands of pregnant women who have taken this vaccine and there is no sign of a problem – I hope for some worried people that would be reassuring.
CNN: Many parents have said online, “ It’s one thing for me as an adult to go out and shoot myself in the arm, but when I think about picking up my child it’s a whole another set of fears. I have to be very sure that there is nothing in any of these vaccines that will harm my child’s future. What is your message to these parents?
Beigi: I fully understand that I am too concerned about the future of your child. I have two teenage girls myself. And I will definitely get my two teenage daughters vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available in my area.
My message to parents is this: You need to weigh the risk of getting Covid-19 infection against the safety of vaccines. The United States Food and Drug Administration would not issue an authorization for adolescents if there were major signs of problems. There was absolutely no reason to believe that there will be any new problems in this age group.
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