- An ESPN reporter quit her job, saying she didn’t want to get vaccinated while trying to conceive.
- Nicki Minaj said on Twitter her cousin’s friend became impotent after getting the vaccine.
- Research shows that the vaccine is safe for pregnant people and does not affect fertility.
The ESPN reporter Allison Williams recently stepped down from her job because she said she didn’t want a COVID-19 vaccine while trying to get pregnant.
This week, Nicki Minaj said on Twitter that she wasn’t attending the Met Gala because she was not vaccinated and that her cousin’s friend became impotent after getting the shot.
Minaj’s and Williams’ comments may have hit a nerve for people who are wary of the vaccine during pregnancy or while they’re trying to get pregnant.
But experts say the vaccines are safe for pregnant people and have no effect on fertility. There’s an expanding body of research to support this, too.
“The Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines are safe for pregnant women and their unborn children. There have been no medical studies suggesting that vaccination impairs fertility or early pregnancy,” Dr. James Byrne, the chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California, told Insider.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for everyone 12 and older, including people who are pregnant and those trying to become pregnant.
“At this point, the information is clear. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your family,” Byrne said.
Debunking myths about the vaccine and fertility
Byrne said there was no data to support the idea that the vaccine could affect fertility — in fact, there’s not even a “plausible mechanism” that can explain how the vaccine would affect the ability to get pregnant, he said.
“There are dangerous social-media myths that claim the vaccine could cause infertility in women,” he said. “These myths lead to women avoiding a vaccine that protects them and those they love from a very dangerous disease.”
Another myth that’s shown up on social media is that a protein found in the placenta, syncytin-1, has a construction similar to the spike protein of the COVID-19 virus, which the vaccine targets. Some people mistakenly believe that since COVID-19 antibodies attack the virus, they might also attack that protein in the placenta, Dr. Stephen M. Wold, an OB-GYN at High Risk Pregnancy Center in Las Vegas, told Insider.
“There is no evidence to support this hypothesis,” he said. The protein and the virus are not very similar structurally, so there’s no way the vaccine could attack this protein, he added.
What research says about the vaccine and trying to conceive
Research shows that people who get the vaccine conceive at rates similar to those of unvaccinated people. A study of people undergoing in vitro fertilization found that people with antibodies from the vaccines, people with antibodies from a recent COVID-19 infection, and people with no antibodies all conceived at a similar rate.
In a study of 2,500 people who got the vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy, about 13% miscarried. While this might seem high, it is in line with the rate for people who have not had the vaccine; 11 to 16% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the CDC.
With the Delta variant, the vaccine is more important for pregnant people
Pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe cases of COVID-19. With variants spreading, and cases becoming more prevalent, it’s critical for pregnant people to get vaccinated, Wold said.
“The risks of the vaccine are extremely low when compared to the potential complications of COVID-19, particularly during pregnancy,” he said. “Having a COVID-19 infection during pregnancy may result in more severe illness and increase the risk of both hospitalization and death.”
Many hospitals are reporting more critically ill pregnant people with the Delta variant.
“COVID kills, including young pregnant women,” Byrne said. “Vaccination protects the lives and health of women and their babies.”