False claims tying coronavirus vaccines to infertility drive doubts among women of childbearing age - The Washington Post
Feb 22, 2021 2 mins, 53 secs

As the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine ramps up across the United States, women of childbearing age have emerged as a surprising roadblock to efforts to halt the pandemic by achieving herd immunity.

With such women making up a large share of the health-care workforce, vaccine uptake at nursing homes and hospitals has been as low as 20 to 50 percent in some places — a far cry from the 70 to 85 percent population target that health officials say may be needed to stop the virus.

Women’s concerns come against a backdrop of national surveys showing that a growing share of Americans are open to getting the vaccine.

The infertility myth is just one of many reasons women are hesitant, doctors and community organizers say, with others having more general concerns about a vaccine that has only recently been approved and the fact that early trials did not specifically look at pregnant or lactating women, leading to conflicting guidance from health authorities.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the United Kingdom has said that while there’s nothing to indicate any safety concerns for pregnancy, there also isn’t enough evidence to recommend routine use of the vaccine in pregnant women.

Experts also point out that 12 women in the Pfizer-BioNTech clinical trials and six in the Moderna trials became pregnant after taking the vaccine, although they note that is only anecdotal evidence.

On Thursday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced an international study to evaluate their coronavirus vaccines in pregnant women.

Fauci, an infectious-disease expert, said that among 10,000 pregnant women who have received the shots, there were “no red flags.”.

Richard Beigi, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and president of the Magee-Womens Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, urged pregnant women to “consider the benefit of getting, but also the risk of not getting the vaccine.”.

“We are increasingly becoming aware as the pandemic has gone across the world that when pregnant women develop symptoms and get sick, they appear more likely to get more critically ill,” said Beigi, who is part of the coronavirus task force of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Iwasaki said getting the vaccine might be optional for a pregnant woman who is able to isolate herself so she is not exposed to others.

As for women who have already given birth and are breastfeeding, Iwasaki said, “We feel more confident the vaccine would be beneficial.”.

Each day, Lori Porter, chief executive of the National Association of Health Care Assistants, fields back-to-back phone calls from young women trying to decide whether to get the vaccine.

Porter said the uptake among her members, who mostly work in nursing homes, is so low that the few who get the shots have to defend their decisions to their colleagues.

She and others hold out hope that as more research comes out on the coronavirus vaccines and fertility, pregnancy and lactation, more women will become comfortable with receiving the shots

Just in the past month, two studies appeared to suggest that pregnant women may be able to pass antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 to their fetuses

But she came away from her own research convinced the vaccine is safe and was also pleased with the indication that if she got the vaccine, she might be able to pass on some immunity to her child

She said she believes changing women’s views about the vaccine begins with those in the medical field

Pregnant women agonize over whether to get coronavirus vaccine

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