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Fact Check-Available COVID-19 vaccines are not linked to infertility or breast-feeding complications; 6,402 people did not die from the Moderna vaccine in February

Days after U.S. President Joe Biden said he would direct states to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by May 1, a post on social media claimed that the vaccines cause infertility and that nursing mothers who have been vaccinated can cause harm to their babies. In addition, the post claims that over 6,000 people over the age of 50 died from the Moderna vaccine in February 2021. These claims are false.

The main post in question, available here , makes three main claims: 1) that the vaccine “renders men and women sterile,” 2) that “if you are a nursing mother your baby can get serious side affects (sic)” and 3) that “6402 people over 50 died from the Moderna vaxx in February alone.”

Other social media posts making similar claims about vaccine-related infertility can be found here and here .

At the time of this article’s publication, over 115 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen vaccines, the three COVID-19 vaccines granted Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), have been administered in the United States according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (here , here).

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use new messenger RNA (ribonucleic acid) technology to create an immune response and both require two shots. The one-shot J&J vaccine involves a more conventional approach, using a common cold virus to introduce coronavirus proteins into cells to trigger an immune response (here).

None of these vaccines has been found to cause infertility, nor is there a need for recipients to stop breastfeeding. As for the post’s claim about vaccine-related deaths, the CDC has found no evidence that vaccines contributed to patient deaths among those who died after being vaccinated.

NO EVIDENCE THAT THE COVID-19 VACCINES CAUSE INFERTILITY/PREGNANCY AND BIRTH COMPLICATIONS

As stated here by the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, there is “no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine would reduce your natural fertility or harm the placenta or fetus.”

Referring to the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, a group of obstetricians and gynecologists at the medical school explained that while the vaccines are new, their mRNA (Messenger RNA) technology “and existing safety data provide reassurance regarding the safety of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines during pregnancy.”

In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says here that those trying to get pregnant can still get a COVID-19 vaccine, as “there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility.”

The college also advises that you “do not need to delay getting pregnant after you get a vaccine” and that “if you find out you are pregnant after you have the first dose (of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or the Moderna vaccine), you should still get the second dose.”

Some social media posts (here) claim that an unspecified COVID-19 vaccine “contains a spike protein called syncitin-1, vital for the formation of placenta in women” and that receiving the vaccine “could lead to infertility in women for an unspecified duration.”

The Reuters Fact Check team previously disproved social media claims that mRNA vaccines target syncytin-1, a protein vital to successful pregnancies here . The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Medical website also debunked this claim here last month, with the help of Dr. Cecilia Stuopis, obstetrician-gynecologist at MIT.

Published by WedMD and the Washington Post, articles explaining why the COVID-19 vaccines have been falsely linked to infertility are available here and here .

EXPERTS SAY THAT THOSE BREAST-FEEDING CAN SAFELY GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE

The post in question claims that vaccine recipients who are nursing will cause dangerous side effects to their children is also baseless. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which recommends that those breastfeeding get the COVID-19 vaccine, “There is no need to stop breastfeeding if you want to get a vaccine” (here).

“When you get vaccinated, the antibodies made by your body can be passed through breastmilk and help protect your child from the virus,” the college website states.

Furthermore, Dr. Molly Stout, maternal fetal medicine director at Michigan Medicine Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, previously explained to Michigan Health (here) that “vaccination is recommended for nursing mothers because benefits of the vaccine outweigh the theoretical risks regarding the safety of vaccinating.”

Stout also said that “antibodies from the lactating mother that transfer into the breastmilk may actually protect the breastfeeding child.”

In a statement published in December 2020 (here), the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine did not recommend that COVID-19 vaccine recipients stop breastfeeding, explaining that lactation post-vaccine poses “little plausible risk for the child” and that “there is a biologically plausible benefit.”

6,402 PEOPLE DID NOT DIE FROM THE MODERNA VACCINE IN FEBRUARY 2021

The post in question falsely claims that “6402 people over 50 died from the Moderna (SIC) vaxx in February alone.”

According to data collected by the U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), available wonder.cdc.gov/vaers.html , 227 individuals who had received the Moderna vaccine died in February, 220 of whom were over the age of 50. This number is nowhere close to the post’s 6,402 figure, the origins of which are not clear.

But as explained here in a previous Reuters fact-check, anyone can report events to VAERS (vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.html) and a disclaimer on the CDC website says: “The reports may contain information that is incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental, or unverifiable” (here).

When downloading the data, users are presented with a further disclaimer that the data do not include information from investigations into reported cases. The disclaimer also says “the inclusion of events in VAERS data does not imply causality” (here).

As stated here by the CDC, “Reports of death to VAERS following vaccination do not necessarily mean the vaccine caused the death.”

“To date, VAERS has not detected patterns in cause of death that would indicate a safety problem with COVID-19 vaccines,” the CDC says.

Of the 109 million vaccine doses administered in the United States between Dec. 14, 2020 and March 15, 2021, “VAERS received 1,913 reports of death (0.0018%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.” Having reviewed “available clinical information including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records,” the CDC found “no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths.”

VERDICT

False. None of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines has been found to cause or increase risk of infertility or pregnancy and birth complications. Those breast-feeding may safely receive a COVID-19 vaccine, according to experts. 6,402 individuals over the age of 50 did not die from the Moderna vaccine in February 2021.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here . 

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