Ohio health experts dispel myths about COVID vaccine and fertility

Ohio health experts say those who choose not to get a COVID-19 vaccine not only risk their own health, but the health of others, including children and a Ohioans with immune disorders who are unable to be vaccinated.

That’s why Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, the Ohio Department of Health’s chief medical officer, led a press briefing Monday afternoon to discuss myths surrounding the coronavirus vaccines, particularly those about fertility.

“As of this morning, more than 5.3 millions Ohioans have started the COVID-19 vaccination process. More than 4.7 million are fully vaccinated. On Saturday, we hit a benchmark we’ve waiting for quite some time: fewer 50 cases per 100,000 residents,” Vanderhoff said.

Those are positive signs, but he said “the threat of COVID-19 remains.” Misinformation about the vaccines is why many people have said they don’t want one.

“The bottom line is that the more Ohioans who are vaccinated the better we can protect ourselves and one another,” Vanderhoff said.

Dr. Lisa Egbert, a Dayton obstetrician/gynecologist and president of the Ohio State Medical Association, said there is no scientific evidence, nor is there a scientific pathway, for the COVID-19 vaccine to cause any ill effects toward fertility at the time of vaccination and future fertility.

“But what it will do is protect you from COVID during pregnancy, which is very scary. There is significant increased morbidity and mortality to both mom and baby if you have COVID during your pregnancy. … if you’re worried or scared about getting pregnant and getting the vaccine. please don’t be scared about getting the vaccine, Be scared about getting COVID and get the vaccine,” Egbert said.

De. Neel Parekh, a urologist specializing in men’s infertility at the Cleveland Clinic, said the vaccine would prevent possible fertility issues.

“We know that COVID itself can affect sperm parameters and potentially affect fertility,” he said.

COVID, influenza and smoking all can affect sperm production and mobility, he said.

The panel also addressed other vaccine myths.

One is that the vaccine can affect menstruation, which Egbert said is unfounded.

“Women have variations in their menstrual cycle for various reasons; one of the most common is stress,” Egbert said.

Some people who have been infected with COVID may believe they they have immunity and do not need to be vaccinated.

Egbert said she ordered an antibody blood test for one such patient. That test came back negative for COVID-19 antibodies, Egbert said, meaning the patient was at risk of becoming infected again.

Another is that the vaccine can give you COVID-19, which Vanderhoff said it cannot because they do not include any live virus.

While two of the vaccines, Moderna and Pfizer, use messengerRNA to deliver antibody instructions, Vanderhoff said “the COVID-19 vaccines simply cannot change your DNA.”

Yet another concern some have is that the vaccines are experimental, or were rushed through.

“There is nothing experimental about the vaccines that we have. They weren’t developed overnight, even though they were developed very rapidly. All the normal safety steps were taken in the development of these vaccines. … no corners were cut whatsoever in terms of the development and release of these vaccines.”

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