Rumors Vs. Truth in COVID-19 Vaccination: Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Really Cause Infertility?

Covid 19 Fertility and Pregnancy

There are numerous claims and myths that keep on floating online regarding the possible side effects of COVID-19 vaccines on one’s fertility. Because of these misconceptions about the vaccines, many people are hesitant to get the new vaccines against COVID-19. For example, 60% of nursing home staffers in Ohio had declined their COViD-19 shots.

Today, we will discuss the rumors and misconceptions between COVID-19 vaccines and infertility, the truth about this matter, and simple ways on how you can handle misinformation around you.

The Rumors and Misconceptions Between COVID-19 Vaccines and Infertility

Due to the ongoing rise of the anti-vaccine campaigns of many people online such as in blogs, websites, and social media pages, there are many ideas and opinions that were used to spread misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines and negatively affect the views of the people in the society. Below are some examples of the rumors and misconceptions that you should be aware of:

  • Wolfgang Wodarg, a German doctor and epidemiologist, is the person who first started the rumors between COVID-19 vaccines and infertility as he collaborated with a former Pfizer employee to ask the European Medicines Agency to delay the research study and approval on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. 

He was concerned about the protein syncytin-1, which appears to be an essential component of the placenta in mammals as it has similarities in the genetic instructions that exist in the spike part of the new coronavirus. They thought that if the vaccine causes the body to make antibodies against syncytin-1, it might cause the body to destroy and block the protein in the human placenta and later turn women infertile.

  • Several people have reported unusually heavy periods after taking their COVID-19 vaccines. That’s why some people consider these side effects to negatively impact the fertility of a woman.
  • There is a viral article that falsely claims that a person’s COVID-19 shot could harm someone else’s reproductive system because of vaccine shedding. This phenomenon occurs when a person “sheds” parts of inoculation from the body after getting a shot. Then, these shed components could possibly throw off other people’s menstrual cycles or harm their reproductive systems.
  • There are feminist individuals who use these ideas to get the attention of a wider audience as they continue to link COVID-19 vaccines in menstruation. They keep on questioning the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines and injecting doubts to the people despite not repeating the lies about fertility. Still, their myths made more people reluctant to get vaccinated.
  • A certain research study from the University of Miami was being misinterpreted to claim that the COVID-19 vaccines negatively affected sperm production.
  • Others used these lies in their conspiracy theories about Google and Facebook, claiming that they are trying to depopulate the Earth. They said that people might go sterile and not be able to bear their own children after receiving the COVID-19 shots.

The Truth About the Effects of COVID-19 Vaccination in Fertility

Now, before making ourselves believe in these false claims that don’t have any concrete evidence, we need to unravel the truth behind the effects of COVID-19 vaccination infertility. We made some conscious research to investigate the whole facts and debunk the myths that continue to blind many people across many countries worldwide about this matter. Please read carefully the information below:

  • Jill Foster, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who has been studying vaccine hesitancy explained that the coronavirus’s spike protein and syncytin-1 share small stretches of the same genetic code, but not enough to make them a match. Also, she illustrated that it would be like two people having phone numbers that both contain the number 7. You couldn’t dial one number to reach the other person, even though their phone numbers shared a digit. Thus, they are only similar on a tiny level. Also, Wodarg who started the rumor writes “there is no indication whether antibodies against spike proteins of SARS viruses would also act like anti-Syncytin-1 antibodies.”
  • Laura Morris, MD, a family medicine doctor said that

    there is no plausible reason — no medical or scientific mechanism — for this vaccine to interact with a woman’s reproductive organs or have any interaction with an egg that’s been released or fertilized.

  • She added: “A good analogy I’ve heard is that for your immune system to get mixed up and attack the placental protein would be like you mistaking an elephant for an alley cat because they’re both gray. There is one small similarity, but the overall construction of the protein is so completely different, your immune system is way too smart to be confused by that.
  • Alice Lu-Culligan, an MD-Ph.D candidate at Yale University who studies the immune system and reproductive health, stated that a lot of women noted heavy menstrual periods after receiving the COVID-19 vaccines because the immune cells play a significant role in menstruation, and so it is in fact possible that the vaccine could temporarily alter that process. 
  • Albert Hsu MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at MU Health Care,  recommends the COVID vaccine for men concerned about their fertility because of the possible effects that COVID-19 disease could have on their reproductive system. So, he recently published a peer-reviewed journal article that discussed the possible negative impact of the COVID-19 disease on testicular function, sperm production, and male fertility. 
  • Paul Offit, MD, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said that about 20% of the American population, or 70 million Americans have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. If the infertility theory was real, one would anticipate that the body making antibodies against the natural infection would be visible in the fertility statistical reports but still, it has not. 
  • There is actually no risk in COVID-19 vaccines to pregnant women or the ones who are trying to conceive. However, there exists clear evidence about the danger of COVID-19 infection to pregnant women. That’s why pregnant women and other people should accept the COVID-19 vaccine instead of staying away from it.

How to Handle Misleading Information and Conspiracy Theories About COVID-19 Vaccines 

People should really use their minds as they exercise their wisdom and insight about the issues in our society, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. They should take sufficient time to read reliable and evidence-based resources and articles. 

The secretary-general of the United Nations made a warning that a dangerous epidemic of misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rise. He said: 

“Harmful health advice and snake-oil solutions are proliferating. Falsehoods are filling the airwaves. Wild conspiracy theories are infecting the Internet. Hatred is going viral, stigmatizing and vilifying people and groups.”

Here are some simple ways on handling misleading information and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines:

  • Be aware of the captioned images or short videos like memes that are increasingly spreading online through social media pages. Those images and video clips can be easily altered, distorted, and taken out of context.

Make sure that you examine the source and content of the articles and videos even though they appear to be popular. Various news media companies, underground groups, and other organizations may use their power and influence to slant a story. Always check the original source of information before you trust a news item. Think deeply if the news report blurs the line between fact and opinion or shows only one or biased side of the story.

  • Don’t ever trust the information because of gut feelings or personal preferences.
  • Slow down, pause, and reflect on yourself especially when it comes to spreading the unverified information to others. 

Just consider this ongoing situation if you are not still convinced of the COVID-19 vaccines’ effectiveness: There are many young and healthy women who are getting sick on ventilators along with their babies even being delivered early because their mothers have COVID-19. You should focus on the very real dangers we know do exist from the virus itself and not being swayed by the rumors around you.

CONCLUSION

Despite the growing numbers of myths and rumors that continue to spread like wildfires around the Internet, the lies surrounding COVID-19 vaccines’ negative effects in our body like infertility will fade away for some time because they don’t have any real or concrete evidence to start from. Also, they only entice many people and become the center of attention for some moments to raise countless doubts. The truth is those baseless rumors have no real substance at all. Thus, be attentive and smart on the rumors of infertility caused by COVID-19 vaccines.

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