Carrie Michaels, a nurse practitioner in the Infectious Diseases Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is pregnant with her first child. After speaking with her fertility specialist physician and obstetrician, Michaels felt comfortable about getting the COVID-19 vaccine for the health and safety of her and her unborn baby.
In addition to Carrie Michaels’ video testimonial above, view videos from Dylan Graetz, MD, Oncology and Global Pediatric Medicine, and Brittany Bedard, RN, Surgical Services, about why they got vaccinated during their pregnancies.
Walking down the hallways of St. Jude, Diego Hijano, MD, Infectious Diseases, often gets questions about the COVID-19 vaccine’s safety and side effects, and whether infertility is one of them. People are generally skeptical, especially when they may hear second-hand reports or misinterpreted information.
Hijano explained that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has been a mainstay of information regarding the vaccine and concerns of infertility. Virtually all research outcomes have discredited infertility concerns.
Hijano further sets the record straight on the scientific research to quell concerns many women and parents of daughters may have about the vaccine.
“Misinformation on the vaccines as a cause of infertility continues to be a major barrier for COVID-19 vaccination efforts everywhere,” Hijano said. “In addition, this fear translates from mothers to daughters and results in vaccine hesitancy in those 12-18 years of age.”
Hijano explained that there are currently two specific myths related to COVID-19 vaccines and fertility. The first one claims that the vaccines cause infertility by generating antibodies that not only target the coronavirus spike protein, as designed, but also inadvertently react with a protein in the placenta called syncytin-1. The myth claims that the viral protein and human protein are so similar in structure that the protective antibodies against the coronavirus will also prevent the placenta from developing properly, causing infertility.
“This is false,” he explained. “Researchers from Yale compared the coronavirus’s spike protein to placental syncytin-1 and found no notable similarity between them.”
In addition, a new study published in the American Society of Reproductive Medicine reports showed that antibodies, either from the vaccine or from having had COVID-19, do not prevent early pregnancy development. Also, women have and continue to conceive after coronavirus infection and vaccination.”
I want to be a grandfather one day, so if I thought infertility could be an issue, I would not put my daughters in harm’s way. Their futures are very important to me and I trust the research.
The second more recent myth is that the mRNA vaccines accumulate in the ovaries. Hijano explained that this is also false. He cites two studies from the European Medicines Agency’s research that shows “no accumulation of vaccine-related products in the ovaries.”
“Claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility are unfounded and have no scientific evidence supporting them,” Hijano said. “The best way to obtain factual information is to rely on scientific research. Relying on social media and general news reports can create confusion and actual false information.”
Beyond even the vaccine, Hijano said that it is important to point out that infertility is a common problem. There are well-known causes and risk factors, and there has never been a vaccine that has been linked with it.
As a father of two daughters, Hijano makes it clear that he would not put his own daughters at risk if he was even remotely skeptical.
“My 12-year-old daughter got the vaccine as soon as it was available and I’m anxiously waiting for the vaccine to be authorized for those younger than 12 years of age, so my other daughter can be protected,” he said. “My father passed before he could be a grandfather. He would have been a wonderful grandfather. I want to be a grandfather one day, so if I thought infertility could be an issue, I would not put my daughters in harm’s way. Their futures are very important to me and I trust the research.”