CNN Films’ “Race for the Vaccine,” produced and narrated by Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, traces the world-changing discoveries of the vaccines against Covid-19. Watch Saturday, May 15 at 9 p.m. ET.
It’s the claim that’s suddenly everywhere: The Covid-19 vaccine is going to make women infertile.
“No! You don’t know the science!” one woman posted on Twitter in response to naysayers. “The vaccine creates an immune response to the placenta and renders a woman sterile! They know this and this is the objective! It’s a shifty world sterilisation programme.”
As it turns out, this unfounded fear isn’t new, said vaccine expert and pediatrician Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, the chief of Stanford University School of Medicine’s division of pediatric infectious diseases, who is currently leading vaccine trials in children younger than 12.
“Oh my goodness, people have been saying this about every vaccine since I can remember,” said Maldonado, who also chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. “There is no evidence that this vaccine will affect development or fertility.”
Even those who do not consider themselves anti-vaxxers are expressing worry. As one woman shared on social media, “The protein that the covid vaccine codes for is similar to a protein on the placenta, so ppl worry it could cause infertility.”
Parents are expressing concern as well, as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers approving the Covid-19 vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds this week.
To set the record straight, CNN reached out to Dr. Richard Beigi, who sits on the Immunization, Infectious Disease, and Public Health Preparedness Expert Work Group of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
CNN: Some people are worried that the Covid-19 vaccines could be associated with fertility issues for adult women and also for teenagers – when the vaccine for ages 12 to 15 becomes available.
Dr. Richard Beigi: There’s never been any vaccine that’s been linked with infertility.
There is no clear scientific reason to think the new vaccine would cause fertility problems in adults. Likewise, there’s no scientific reason to believe it would cause fertility problems in teenagers. Those are the facts, regardless of how old the person is.
It is a new mRNA vaccine technology being used in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, so I can understand theoretically how that would be unnerving to 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 quite safe.
Pregnancy is now clearly considered a high-risk category for the Covid-19 infection, as it is for other respiratory infections like influenza.