NEW ORLEANS — So far, just half of the people who work at Ochsner Health, statewide, decided to get a COVID Vaccine.
Among those who have turned it down, are healthy, young women who think it will prevent them from having a baby.
A social media rumor is scaring young women, so they are not getting the COVID vaccine, thinking it will make them infertile. Top Ochsner officials said that includes their health care workers.
“There is a large group because of all of the false information I would say on the internet about fertility,” said Dr. Robert Hart, Ochsner Chief Medical Officer.
“We've had physicians that have talked to them. We've had their colleagues who have gotten vaccinated. We've done videos,” explained Ochsner President and CEO Warner Thomas, about how they are working to get accurate information to the staff.
Like Ochsner, Tulane made an educational video too.
“Is it going to make it difficult for me to become pregnant? And the answer is no,” Tulane Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist Dr. Cecilia Gambala, explains to watchers.
When asked if young women patients were coming in concerned about getting the vaccine and asking if it could make them infertile, Dr. Jay Huber replied, “Every day.”
Dr. Huber is a Fertility Specialist at The Fertility Institute of New Orleans and a Reproductive Endocrinologist at LSU Health Sciences Center. He says the rumor started because the spike protein that the vaccine targets, shares a small segment of genetic code similar to a placenta protein. So the question people were asking is would antibodies made by your immune system not only attack the virus, but the baby's placenta as well?
“That since has been debunked and the cause of fertility or infertility after the COVID-19 vaccine, we don't have any data to suggest that is the case,” Dr. Huber said.
Dr. Huber says women who got the vaccine in the clinical trial later got pregnant. It's not a live virus vaccine, nothing enters your DNA, and the genetic material in the vaccine is degraded and won't affect fertility or pregnancy.
“It will not cross the placenta. The placenta acts as a very good barrier to protect the pregnancy,” Dr. Huber said about the messenger RNA technology in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Dr. Huber warns catching the natural coronavirus in the community can affect male fertility because of the prolonged high fever it can cause.
“We have seen decline, declining sperm counts in some of our patients and that can last upwards of two to four months,” he said.
So he recommends that you talk to your doctor, but for now he says vaccine benefits far outweigh theoretical risks.
He also says the new vaccines expected to come out soon from Johnson and Johnson, and AstraZeneca, so far look to be as safe as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on the market now.