COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The COVID-19 vaccine set records for the speed of development, but with that speed, many people are still hesitant on whether it’s safe.
One concerning rumor that has caught people’s attention online is that the COVID-19 vaccine can have an impact on fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding for women.
Health experts in South Carolina said there’s no evidence that the vaccine can impact fertility or that it’s dangerous for pregnant women to get the vaccine because it’s only a tiny piece of genetic code that specifically targets the virus.
The rumor started with a headline that claimed: “Head of Pfizer Research: COVID Vaccine is Female Sterilization.” The article quoted a retired British doctor who left Pfizer 9 years ago.
Pfizer spokeswoman Jerica Pitts said that “It has been incorrectly suggested that COVID-19 vaccines will cause infertility because of a shared amino acid sequence in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and a placental protein. The sequence, however, is too short to plausibly give rise to autoimmunity.”
Assistant State Epidemiologist Dr. Jane Kelly said the vaccine contains just a snippet of the genetic code for the spike protein from the virus, saying that the mRNA doesn’t get into your DNA or egg cells.
“This vaccine is just to that one paragraph, it’s like the intro,” Dr. Kelly said. “If you can make anti-bodies to that intro, then the virus can’t get into your cells, so I don’t see how this would have anything to do with infertility. It is just the instructions for making antibody to a single protein to this virus.”
It’s something that Medical University of South Carolina Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Krutika Kuppalli echoed.
“There’s no way for that to affect your fertility,” Dr. Kuppalli said. “We are breaking it down very quickly and it’s only specific for the SPIKE protein for the coronavirus.”
Dr. Krutika Kuppalli said experts believe the vaccine is also safe for pregnant women and those breastfeeding, although they are still waiting on further data.
“We are still waiting for more of that data to be coming out, but because this is not a live vaccine it is felt to be safe,” Dr. Kuppalli said.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that the vaccine should be offered to both pregnant and breastfeeding individuals.
Pfizer did not include pregnant women in the vaccine study. 23 women did become pregnant during the study. 9 of them dropped out because of it and they are continuing to monitor the others.