Chatter about the Covid-19 vaccine’s impact on pregnancy is in the headlines again. Wednesday Dr. Anthony Fauci is responding to a tweet by rapper Nicki Minaj, debunking her claim that the shot could cause impotency.
Connecticut health professionals feel strongly about conversations like this, and they are now sending a message about the dangers of misinformation.
“We really want people to know, they see these things on social media, they’re not true.” Dr. Deidre Gifford, Connecticut Department of Public Health commissioner, said.
Despite that warning, Minaj’s Tweet is liked more than 130,000 times. Tens of thousands of people have also shared the Tweet.
“That’s another one of these myths that’s been perpetuated on social media,” Gifford said. “Unfortunately, when somebody with a lot of followers and a high profile like that repeats those myths then they begin to take on a life of their own.”
Gifford, along with Dr. Molly Brewer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology chair, say misinformation online is having a direct impact on Connecticut women.
“We’re seeing a number of patients, a surprising number of patients, that are worried about getting the vaccine,” Dr. Brewer said.
They say it is especially impacting women who want to get pregnant.
“We have been seeing as we look at rates of vaccination, both in Connecticut and around the country, women of childbearing age are some of the groups that are most reluctant to get vaccinated,” Gifford said.
Among the other myths the doctors say they have seen online: the vaccine attacks placenta, causes infertility and leads to miscarriages.
“There’s no evidence from the hundreds of thousands of people that have gotten the vaccine that there’s any adverse impact,” Gifford said.
Health professionals are very careful about the advice they give to pregnant women, and early in the pandemic they advised them to avoid the shot. Now that has completely changed.
“Until the data started to come out from the clinical trials, we didn’t know what to expect,” Dr. Brewer said. “But about six months ago, six to seven months ago, it started to come out that in fact it was not only was it safe, but it was safer than not getting vaccinated.”
They say that’s because when women are pregnant, they are immunosuppressed. As with the flu, they are much more likely to get seriously ill if infected with Covid-19. The virus also puts them at-risk of getting placental infections, going into pre-term labor, or having a stillborn child.
“This is really bad news for women if they don’t get vaccinated. In fact, the biggest risk for pregnant women is not getting the vaccine,” Brewer said.
As for new moms, Brewer says vaccinated women that are breastfeeding will safeguard their newborns by passing them antibodies.
“If anything, it protects their baby rather than hurts their baby,” Brewer said.
Both doctors recommended visiting The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website to get the most accurate information, or consulting with a trusted health care provider.