Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by the Louisiana Department of Health.
Learn the Facts About Fertility, Pregnancy, and the COVID-19 Vaccine
If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future, it is recommended that you get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and the CDC recommend the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy and have deemed it as “safe and effective.”
Katie Linkhart, a medical professional in Rayne, LA, recently shared her own story on why she chose to get the vaccine, despite her initial concerns about how the vaccine may affect her fertility.
“I decided not to look at what I was reading and watching on social media, but what was science,” shared Katie. “In reality, what I was finding through research is the [pregnant] women who were having complications from having Covid.”
Pregnant individuals with COVID-19 are at greater risk of severe illness including increased risk of admission to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), need for mechanical ventilation, and death. They are also at increased risk for pregnancy complications such as preterm birth. Pregnant individuals with additional comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension are at an even greater risk of complications if they contract COVID-19 during pregnancy.
In fact, the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) reports 14 COVID-19 severe pregnancy outcomes resulting in critical illness or death throughout Louisiana since mid-July of this year, an alarming trend as the Delta variant circulates around the state. All 14 cases involved mothers who were unvaccinated, and resulted in 6 maternal deaths and 10 fetal deaths.
“More COVID-19-related maternal and fetal deaths have been reported during the Delta surge than the total number of COVID-19 severe pregnancy outcomes reported during the previous 15 months of the pandemic in Louisiana. It’s a tragic reminder of the vulnerability of pregnant individuals and their children to this highly contagious illness,” said State Health Officer Dr. Joseph Kanter. “Babies rely upon us and their parents for protection. We must do everything we can, including getting the COVID vaccine, to ensure safe and healthy birth outcomes.”
Currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men.
So – where did this myth come from?
A German researcher proposed a theory that the spike protein in the vaccine would cause women to make antibodies that would attack a protein that is essential for embryo implantation. To determine if the theory was true, researchers at Yale studied the genomic make-up of the two proteins as well as antibody production and found that the theory was not true. Additionally, infertility was not observed during vaccine trials. Rather, 23 women in the Pfizer trial conceived.
Moreover, a study published in Fertility and Sterility serves as evidence that the vaccine does not cause infertility in women. In the study, women who had received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and who were undergoing frozen embryo transfer were monitored to determine if their rates of fertility were less than normal fertility rates. There was no decrease in embryo implantation and no increase in pregnancy loss.
In fact, when pregnant individuals get the COVID-19 vaccine they pass on protection to their babies, which is important because they are not eligible for the vaccine. Meanwhile, pregnant individuals who contract COVID-19 are at increased risk of complications including preterm birth.
Researchers at Harvard University have found that maternal antibodies created by the vaccine are found in breast milk and in the umbilical cord which means when individuals receive the vaccine during pregnancy, they are able to pass immunity to the fetus.
“Even though I had the fears, the facts were overcoming them,” said Katie. “Ultimately, I decided to get the vaccine.”
COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at protecting against severe illness from COVID-19, and they are the best means of keeping our communities, including people who are pregnant, safe.
Learn the facts about fertility, pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccine at covidvaccine.la.gov or by calling the vaccine hotline at 1-855-453-0774 where you can speak directly with a medical professional.
About the Louisiana Department of Health
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. The Louisiana Department of Health includes the Office of Public Health, Office of Aging & Adult Services, Office of Behavioral Health, Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, and Healthy Louisiana (Medicaid). To learn more, visit www.ldh.la.gov or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or our blog.