Can a vaccine make you infertile? Common covid vaccine mistruths

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As people all around the world are getting vaccinated from COVID-19, many are still sceptical or opposed to receiving a jab. Wherever you live and whatever vaccine you’re considering, there are many myths and untruths circulating around it. Here are the most common myths.

1. COVID vaccine can make you infertile – FALSE

According to a survey, conducted in the UK by Nature Reviews Immunology, about a quarter of young women didn’t want to get the vaccine fearing for their fertility.

This is not a new fear, false messages, videos and memes that the COVID-19 vaccines can impact fertility have been swirling around the internet since the vaccines were approved in December 2020. However, there’s absolutely no link between the vaccines and infertility, health experts say. Nor do they cause miscarriages.

While some vaccines, like Sputnik V haven’t been tested and approved for use on pregnant women, the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have both recommended that people who are pregnant have access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that people wanting to get pregnant can still get their jab and they don’t need to take a pregnancy test before getting the vaccine. CDC points out that there’s no evidence whatsoever that the vaccines cause fertility problems.

During the clinical trials of several vaccines, some people became pregnant, suggesting that the vaccines don’t cause infertility. In some countries, like France, however, doctors suggest getting a jab after the first trimester as a precaution.

However, a research done in more than 35,000 pregnant women who had the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) found no evidence that the vaccines affect or harm the women or their babies.

The misconception that vaccines can cause infertility isn’t new. In 2003, for example, there were serious concerns about the polio vaccine in Nigeria. A similar thing occurred with the HPV vaccine. Both are safe and have no effect on fertility, assure the scientists.

2. The vaccine isn’t safe because it was developed too fast – FALSE

Many people believe that the COVID vaccines are unsafe because most vaccines took much more time to be developed. And jabs for some diseases such as cancer or HIV have been in progress for decades. However, according to Johns Hopkins university, studies found that the two initial vaccines are both about 95% effective, and reported no serious or life-threatening side effects.

And because the pandemic isn’t like any other public health threatening event that our generation has seen, there are many reasons why the COVID-19 vaccines could be developed so quickly.

First, China isolated and shared genetic information about COVID-19 promptly, so scientists could start working on vaccines very early on.

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were created with a method that has been in development for years, so the companies could start the vaccine development process early in the pandemic. Both companies used the messenger RNA (mRNA), which allows a faster approach than the traditional way that vaccines are made.

The vaccine developers didn’t skip any testing steps, but conducted some of the steps on an overlapping schedule to gather data faster.

Vaccine projects had plenty of resources, as governments invested in research and/or paid for vaccines in advance. Neither cancer, nor HIV studies have benefited from such funding.

Social media helped companies find and engage study volunteers, and many were willing to help with COVID-19 vaccine research. On top of that, because COVID-19 is so contagious and widespread, it did not take long to see if the vaccine worked for the study volunteers who were vaccinated.

Because of the urgency, the companies began making vaccines early in the process — even before FDA authorization — so some supplies were ready when authorization occurred.

3. The vaccines change your DNA and could cause cancer – FALSE

According to some false messages distributed online, the mRNA vaccine inactivates the genes that suppress tumors. This is completely untrue. None of the vaccines, old or new, interact with or alter your DNA in any way, and therefore cannot cause cancer.

The mRNA vaccines are one of the newest forms of vaccines, so they can cause a lot of anxiety. However, the way they work is very simple. The mRNA coronavirus vaccines, for example, teach our cells to make a specific spike protein or part of a protein that triggers an immune response to defend us against coronavirus. The immune response produces antibodies and protects us from viral infection.

That genetic material is discarded once our immune system has been activated. The mRNA is not stable. It doesn’t replicate or reproduce and is quickly degraded by the body and more importantly, it doesn’t interact with our DNA that resides in the nucleus of the cell.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) is not the same as DNA and cannot be combined with DNA to change your genetic code. The mRNA is fragile, so after it delivers the instructions to your cells, it breaks down and disappears from the body in about 72 hours.

4. Vaccines don’t work – FALSE

Many more people are getting the vaccine worldwide, but some countries still reinforce their anti-COVID measures, forcing many to believe that the vaccines are not working. The American researchers say that there is overwhelming evidence that despite the fact that the jabs cannot stop the virus completely, they have caused drastic reductions in COVID cases in the United States and worldwide with much less people admitted to hospitals with serious cases of the disease. 

This doesn’t mean that we should stop the safety measures altogether, though. Travel from higher-risk countries, fake vaccination certificates and overall insufficient number of vaccinated people worldwide still a major risk to healthcare systems. 

Even if the studies are still very cautious about the results of the COVID-19 jabs, there are many examples in history that show that vaccines have eradicated several diseases, such as smallpox. Through vaccination, polio has been eliminated from the Western Hemisphere, Europe, and Oceania.

5. Vaccines cause autism – FALSE

This is a myth that has been around for decades. In 1998, British doctor Andrew Wakefield conducted research that claimed a connection between autism and the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines. 

The study was even published in one of the most reputable journals, The Lancet, but was later retracted and found to be unethical and not factual. Wakefield lost his license in the United Kingdom.

Many studies, peer-reviews and investigation followed, disproving Wakefield’s claims, but this myth continues to spread.

6. The COVID-19 vaccine causes long-term complications – FALSE

There is no evidence that any of the previously used vaccines ever caused long-term effects. The studies have shown that the adverse effects associated with most vaccines become evident within 2 to 3 months of the administration of the vaccine. 

The COVID vaccines have been carried out since December 2020, millions of doses have been administered, so the scientists are confident to know what the side effects profile of the jab is.

Moreover, the vaccines are continuously monitored post-market through various governmental bodies and manufacturers to identify and investigate any long-term events and follow up with appropriate recommendations whenever an unexpected issue presents after an extended time period.

Several vaccines are associated with a very unlikely risk. The American governmental body flagged the blood-clotting disorder associated with the J&J vaccine and heart inflammation linked to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. According to data, the risk is so low, the vaccines have still been approved. 

7. Vaccines contain microchips and make you magnetic – FALSE

The claims that the vaccines make you magnetic are very popular online since the start of the rollout. They have even been repeated by some healthcare professionals. 

In early June, the US Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, based in Cleveland, claimed that COVID-19 vaccines could turn people into magnets due to 5G telecommunication towers. She used her claim to justify the need for a bill to stop businesses and government agencies from requiring vaccinations.

Another popular conspiracy theory claims that the governments are using vaccines to track people. And the rich few like billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates are behind this scheme.

The claim has been disproven by Bill Gates himself. 

Additionally, microchips are not small enough that they could be inoculated with a needle. The COVID-19 vaccines are old-fashioned and quite straightforward. All vaccines have a list of ingredients published by producers and can be checked on their official websites. 

8. The vaccines are causing COVID-19 variants – FALSE

The vaccines either don’t contain the virus at all or contain inactivated (not alive) virus. It’s the COVID-19 virus itself, not the vaccines, that produces the variants, and it’s a very normal thing.

The virus in a human being multiplies and creates new viruses that generate genetic variations. This happens very often, and when this happens, most variations are harmless.

However, on rare occasions, you can get one mutation or a series of them coincidentally occurring that will create a variant that is more dangerous for humans. The variants can become more transmissible or cause more severe symptoms. 

Evidence suggests that the vaccines currently protect against the variants pretty effectively.

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