Vaccinating against the virus: Local health experts address infertility rumors, give insight on variants

COVID-19 Vaccine

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As millions of people roll up their sleeves to get a coronavirus vaccine, a lot of people have questions about how they work and what they do.

That’s why 10 On Your Side is producing our series “Vaccinating Against the Virus” to help clear up some confusion.

On Monday, we explained how the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines work, as well as how they were produced so quickly.

As of Tuesday, more than 873,000 people across the commonwealth have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

The two vaccines that are currently in the United States use messenger RNA technology, which essentially tells your body how to make the spike of the COVID-19 virus, which then creates an immune response.

One of the rumors local health experts say they’re hearing a lot of is that the vaccines will affect fertility.

Dr. Edward Oldfield, a professor of medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School says that is “absurd.”

“This mRNA vaccine doesn’t circulate in your body,” said Oldfield. “It can’t get to any issues with sperm reduction or ovaries or whatever. It’s just there in your arm and it’s making a response against one thing: the spike of the virus. Nothing in your body. It’s making a reaction against the virus spike.”

There is a similarity between a protein that’s part of the COVID-19 spike and part of the placenta.

Dr. Michael Charles with Sentara says they may be similar, but they are not the same.

“Think about this as two telephone numbers,” said Charles, who practices family medicine. “Different telephone numbers that each have a seven in them. What are the odds of the telephone number being exactly the same if they only have one digit that’s the same? Very unlikely. The same thing with the genetic makeup.”

Charles says if COVID-19 antibodies themselves, whether from the vaccine or from having the actual virus, affected fertility, we’d likely already see a drop in our population levels.

When it comes to the variants of the coronavirus, the doctors also believe the current vaccines will offer some protection, although the exact amount isn’t known for sure. What is known: the more people vaccinated, the fewer variants.

“This vaccine has such a high rate of protection that that’s what’s going to stop this virus in its tracks and stop the mutations,” said Charles.

Charles and Oldfield also advise women who are already pregnant and those with severe allergic reactions to contact their doctors before receiving the vaccine.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Senatara COVID-19 Infographic (Dec. 2020)

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