Since the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, misinformation about the jab’s effect on fertility has been swirling across the internet and social media.
So, what’s the truth behind these viral claims?
“There is no scientific basis to believe the COVID-19 vaccines can affect fertility in anyone of any age,” said Staci Tanouye, MD, an OB/GYN with Baptist Health and Women’s Care Florida. “As OB/GYN physicians, we are trying to debunk this scary myth that originated from a fundamental misconception of how vaccines work.”
Root of the rumor
The infertility myth developed from misleading statements about a spike protein in the COVID-19 vaccines that appeared similar in structure to syncytin-1, a protein that helps the placenta develop during pregnancy. It was argued that if the two proteins shared similar genetic material, the vaccine could trigger an immune response that attacks the placenta.
Despite a lack of evidence, this claim spread across social media, driving vaccine hesitancy among some people with hopes of one day getting pregnant.
“The spike protein in the COVID-19 vaccines and syncytin-1 are only similar on a very tiny level,” explained Dr. Tanouye. “It’s not nearly enough to make them a match or for the immune system to be confused between the two.”
She added, “The hypothesis also doesn’t make any sense from a scientific standpoint. The COVID-19 spike protein has many amino acid sequences that are similar to many different proteins in the body, not just syncytin-1. So if the claim were true, we would see a lot of reactions from the vaccines on all of these different proteins.”
Knowledge is power
Dr. Tanouye urged those who are still unsure to trust the science.
“It’s important that people understand we have more data about the COVID-19 vaccines in a shorter period of time than we’ve had about any vaccine before, because of the state of this pandemic,” said Dr. Tanouye. “And in that data, we have not detected any changes in complications with fertility, pregnancy or miscarriage.”
At Baptist Health, we want to help keep our community informed about COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit baptistjax.com/covid19vaccine. For more information about Baptist Health’s full range of medical services and wellness resources focused on women, visit baptistjax.com/4her.