A report released by the United States Centres for Disease Control says more than 10,000 women were pregnant at the time of obtaining the COVID-19 vaccination, and an additional 262 received a positive pregnancy test following vaccination.
The CDC, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released on Friday said the finding was an evidence that put to rest the widely circulating myth that the COVID-19 vaccine might interfere with pregnancy or cause infertility in women.
According to online portal WebMD, there’s no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility, though some health care workers had cited it as a reason they were reluctant to be first in line to get vaccinated.
Tracing the origin of the myth, WebMD reports that in early December, a German doctor and epidemiologist named Wolfgang Wodarg, who had been skeptical about the need for vaccines in other pandemics, teamed up with a former Pfizer employee to ask the European Medicines Agency to delay the study and approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
One of their concerns was a protein called syncytin-1, which shares similar genetic instructions with part of the spike of the new coronavirus. That same protein is an important component of the placenta in mammals.
If the vaccine causes the body to make antibodies against syncytin-1, they argued, it might also cause the body to attack and reject the protein in the human placenta, making women infertile.
Their petition was picked up by anti-vaccination blogs and websites and posted to social media. Facebook eventually removed posts about the petition from its site for spreading misinformation.
The idea that vaccines could be deployed for population control was also woven into the plot of a recent, fictional miniseries on Amazon Prime Video called Utopia, where a drugmaker obsessed with population control created the illusion of a flu pandemic to convince people to take its vaccine, which doesn’t prevent infection, but human reproduction.
In response to the various concerns about COVID-19, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency had urged Nigerians to disregard rumours, videos and unofficial information about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The agency said such unofficial information was misleading.
A public service announcement posted on NPHCDA’s Twitter handle @NphcdaNG and signed by the Executive Director of the agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, noted that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading very fast and significantly more transmissible.
The agency tweeted, “Dear Nigerians, the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading very fast and evidence shows that the virus is significantly more transmissible, leading to a sharp rise in infections and in some instances, deaths.
“The National Primary Health Care Development Agency, which is the Federal Government Agency charged with the responsibility for all vaccine matters, is currently working with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health, NAFDAC and the National Assembly, to make COVID-19 vaccines available and accessible to Nigerians.
“Dear fellow Nigerians, while we focus on ensuring the wellness of our nation, we urge you to please disregard any misleading rumours, videos and misinformation that are against the COVID-19 vaccine. Remember, your health is your life, and your life is your right!
“Protect yourselves, your families and loved ones from COVID-19. Get vaccinated.
In the same vein, a vaccinologist and co-director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group, Dr. Gregory Poland, says the bottom line is that the benefits far outweigh the risks.
“Other than somebody who has an anaphylaxis reaction to a component of this vaccine, these are safe, they are effective,” says Poland.
He warned that it’s important to set expectations. “You’re likely to have some [local] side effects after the second dose.
“It doesn’t mean anything is going wrong — in fact, it means you’re developing a good immune response that will protect you,” Poland added.
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