Damakant Jayshi

Epidemiology experts are refuting rumors that children receiving COVID-19 vaccines could suffer harmful side effects, including fertility issues that could plague them as adults.

Dr. Katelyn Jetelina, Assistant Professor at University of Texas Health, spoke out about the issue in her newsletter this week. She referred to two new, large studies that debunk fertility issue rumors.

“There is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines impact any aspect of reproduction and sexual functioning,” Jetelina wrote in her newsletter. “We do have mounting evidence that COVID-19 infection does, though, especially among males. And, once people do get pregnant, there are dire consequences of not being vaccinated.” 

Jetelina’s comments were part of a report compiled by Al Tompkins of Poynter in his daily newsletter on Tuesday.

One study of 2,126 females residing in the U.S. or Canada during December 2020-September 2021 and followed through in November last year found that female vaccination did not have an impact on conception, with an equal number of vaccinated and unvaccinated – 18% and 19%, respectively – getting pregnant. Similarly, the study found that male vaccination did not have an impact on conception.

The study did note that male infection could have a temporary impact on some men. “Males who tested positive within 60 days were 18% less likely to conceive in that cycle,”Jetelina said. “While this was not statistically significant, it is consistent with prior research showing COVID19 infection temporarily impacts male fertility.” 

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, speculation about the COVID-19 vaccine’s impact on fertility have continued, which Jetelina said largely originated through three specific causes. One, a blog post, claimed vaccine-induced antibodies might also attack another human protein needed for embryo implantation and impair placental function. Then, in Spring 2021, reports of irregular menstrual cycles following COVID-19 vaccination were amplified.

Jetelina said researchers have not seen any evidence of such effects in clinical trials. She also accused anti-vaxxer movements of driving “mis/disinformation online and [taking] advantage of this fear.” But that, she said, is not new.

“We’ve seen this over and over again with other vaccines,” Jetelina said. “In fact, some developing countries still have polio because of the widespread fear that polio vaccines cause infertility.”

Damakant Jayshi is a reporter for Wausau Pilot & Review. He is also a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of GroundTruth Project that places journalists into local newsrooms. Reach him at damakant@wausaupilotandreview.com.