Update: Feb 1st, 2021: We are happy to report that in late January the WHO retracted a statement that they made about a recommendation regarding the mRNA vaccine for pregnant women. Their current position now lines up to what ASRM, ACOG, the CDC and Dr. Fauci have all advised – that this is an individual decision based upon your risks factors and you should discuss vaccination with your physician teams. IRMS continues to follow ASRM, ACOG and CDC guidelines.
For a year now, our world has been rocked and it seems like everyday answers on how to protect ourselves and our community from COVID-19, just bring along a new series of questions.
Our brains are about to explode from information overload along with our waistlines from stress eating; and it doesn’t get any easier with the added stress of fertility issues.
And now, a light – The mRNA Vaccines!
We all seek clarity & reassurance. So let’s break it down to what we know now (as of January 2021) and what we are doing here at IRMS.
For Some Context: COVID-19 as we are painfully aware, can be deadly and doesn’t discriminate. We have tools that we should all be applying: Wearing a Mask, Social Distancing, Great Hand Hygiene and Following Your Local Health Guidelines. IRMS follows ASRM guidelines and applies strict policies to keep our patients safe while in our care. You can find our detailed policy here.
What are mRNA vaccines?
mRNA stands for messenger RNA – the single-strand molecule that instructs your DNA.
They are critically important. Without mRNA your body isn’t told to make proteins, and proteins make our body work.
mRNA vaccines are in fact a set of instructions that tells your cells in your body to make proteins and fight disease. The vaccines, in essence, establish a conversation with your cells to induce them to produce a small piece of the spike protein. This then stimulates an immune response. Very, very cool.
mRNA medicines are not new. Scientists have been exploring using mRNA for 30 years and had been in testing phases for other diseases like Ebola and Zika when COVID came along. The two mRNA vaccines approved by the FDA are the Pfizer – BioNtech vaccine and Moderna vaccine.
Did you know mRNA vaccines contain no live virus?
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a combo of both synthetic, chemical & enzymatically produced compounds and natural ingredients like sugar & salt. You can find a full list of ingredients in the vaccine on both manufacturers’ websites. They have not been derived or contain any of the live coronavirus. The mRNA vaccines cannot give you COVID-19.
Should I Take the Vaccine If I’m Trying to Conceive?
At IRMS, our response has always been to follow & embrace the science. While recognizing that we are all individuals and each of our fertility journeys are uniquely our own, science, coupled with compassionate care has always been the cornerstone of our practice.
Getting pregnant during this time and taking the vaccine is a personal decision that you should discuss with your physician team. For most people, the benefits of the vaccine will outweigh the risks, but this is your decision, and you must feel comfortable before proceeding.
Even though there is no significant data of a comprehensive study to date to show that COVID-19 impedes your chance so of conceiving certainly contracting COVID at the very least impacts one’s timing on their journey to conception. It can also have severe or even lasting side effects in some cases.
“Patients undergoing fertility treatment and pregnant patients should be encouraged to receive vaccination based on eligibility criteria. Since the vaccine is not a live virus, there is no reason to delay pregnancy attempts because of vaccination administration or to defer treatment until the second dose has been administered.” 2
Should I Take The mRNA Vaccine While Pregnant?
This, again, is something you should discuss with your doctors. This virus is a living breathing entity that is fluid. Scientists know so much more now then a year ago and we are all learning to adapt. There are recent studies which you can find links to on ASRM’s website that show: “….that pregnancy is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease. Furthermore, many women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy have additional risk factors such as obesity, hypertension or diabetes, which may further increase the chance of severe disease from COVID-19 infection. These considerations should be included in decisions regarding vaccination” 3
Again,“because COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not composed of live virus, they are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies. It should be noted that pregnant and lactating women were excluded from the initial phase III trials of these two vaccines, so specific safety data in these populations are not yet available and further studies are planned.” 4
Our very own Dr. Serena H. Chen, Director of Reproductive Medicine here at IRMS, also made a great video on the subject taking you through a wonderful tool from the University of Massachusetts (UMASS) that you can watch.
We also have a great IGTV video on our Instagram channel @ivf_irms where Dr. Chen and Dr. Hessler discuss the mRNA vaccines and take questions. ASRM & ACOG both have very detailed findings and recommendations on the vaccines including common side effects, whether to worry about getting a fever from the vaccine while pregnant, and great links to other resources.
Does the mRNA vaccine cause infertility?
There are also some myths being shared and fueled on social media that we feel are important to address.
There is a statement from a German physician and an ex-employee of Pfizer that the mRNA vaccine would cause infertility. These claims have been debunked. They claim the spike proteins generated from the vaccine in some way are linked to a blockage of proteins needed for the human placenta’s adherent to the uterus. The claim was picked up by anti-vaccination websites and set fire to the social media hemisphere.
The FDA reports: “There is no scientific evidence to suggest that the vaccine could cause infertility in women. In addition, infertility is not known to occur as a result of natural COVID-19 disease, further demonstrating that immune responses to the virus, whether induced by infection or a vaccine, are not a cause of infertility. Reports on social media have falsely asserted that the vaccine could cause infertility in women and the FDA is concerned that this misinformation may cause women to avoid vaccination to prevent COVID-19, which is a potentially serious and life-threatening disease.” 5
We know we are being repetitive, but please discuss with your doctor before making any decision that could impact your health and safety. And always, research the source of information before ascribing validity.
We hope you find all this information helpful – provided clarity & reassurance.
We will continue to empower you through your fertility journey. Follow us on our social media handles for up to date information on COVID-19, the various vaccines and how to navigate this ever-changing world, healthy and safe.
We wish you deep cleansing breaths and please remember these vaccines are a good thing.
1 Moderna’s Covid Vaccine Found 94.5% Effective in Early Analysis By Robert Langreth. www.bloomberg.com Pfizer, Bloomberg research
2 American Society For Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Patient Management And Clinical Recommendations During The Coronavirus (COVID-19) www.asrm.org
3 American Society For Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Patient Management And Clinical Recommendations During The Coronavirus (COVID-19) www.asrm.org
4 American Society For Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Patient Management And Clinical Recommendations During The Coronavirus (COVID-19) www.asrm.org
5 Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions www.fda.gov