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- There are no elements in any of the vaccines that can be passed to another person by proxy.
- The CDC has advised that all authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people who are pregnant and that there is no evidence that shots yield fertility problems or miscarriages.
Social media posts are warning women that their reproductive health could be seriously harmed simply by being around people who have received COVID-19 vaccines.
"Women in their menstruating years are experiencing severe side effects from people around them having received this jab," said a self-described "cosmic doula" in one Instagram video posted April 15. She went on to describe women missing their periods, having excruciating periods and having post-menopausal periods.
A Facebook post similarly shares collection of text posts it says are stories from women — some vaccinated, some who have "been around those who have" — who say they have experienced symptoms that "include bleeding, hemorrhaging, passing clots, delayed cycle, prolonged cycle, bleeding POST menopause, miscarriages, decidual casts, severe period cramping and abnormal pain, etc."
These posts and many others making these claims were flagged as part of efforts by Facebook, which owns Instagram, to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) Many of the posts suggest those with the vaccine are "shedding" spike proteins to others.
These posts, which are based largely on anecdotes, are misleading: There is no data linking vaccines to changes in women’s cycles or fertility. Furthermore, there is no mechanism by which someone who is not vaccinated could experience side-effects passed on by someone who has been vaccinated for COVID-19, as these posts suggest.
Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a gynecologist who has written about the relationship between vaccines and female reproductive health, said unequivocally there is no way this is possible. There are no elements in any of the vaccines that can be passed to another person.
"Neither of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, which use mRNA (messenger RNA), nor the Johnson and Johnson vaccine (which uses a viral vector) can possibly affect a person who has not been vaccinated, and this includes their menstruation, fertility, and pregnancy," Gunter wrote in a blog post. "Let me be very clear. The COVID-19 vaccines cannot affect anyone by proxy."
Dr. Risa Hoshino, a board-certified pediatrician and public health advocate, called out the claims on her Instagram page, where she regularly publishes videos and fact-checks centered on COVID-19 misinformation.
"The shot cannot be ‘shed.’ The shots hold a temporary message that codes for the spike protein, which is a harmless piece of the virus that cannot harm people," Hoshino wrote. "The message is like a Snapchat, it disappears quickly and will not stay in the body long-term. It’s not a live virus, so therefore it cannot shed — only live viruses such as actual SARS-CoV-2 can do this."
The vaccines approved for use in the U.S. can cause minor physical side effects such as a low-grade fever, body aches and soreness at the injection site, but these side effects (or any side effects) can’t be transmitted to anyone else.
There is no evidence that any of the vaccines are causal factors in those who experience irregularities in their menstrual cycles after receiving any of the shots, nor is there any evidence that the vaccines cause fertility problems. The CDC has stated that currently available vaccines are safe for those who are pregnant or may become pregnant.
A woman’s menstrual cycle can fluctuate due to a number of factors, including diet, stress, exercise, illness and pregnancy. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Yale medical student Alice Lu-Culligan and Yale School of Medicine writer-in-residence Randi Hutter Epstein argued that there is room for more research about the relationship between vaccines and women’s menstrual cycles but noted that current data does not suggest a connection.
"Even if there is a connection, one unusual period is no cause for alarm," they wrote.
Research strongly suggests that women who are pregnant are at heightened risk for severe COVID-19, putting them at greater need for protection than other healthy adults. While the effects of the vaccines on pregnant women are still being studied, data collected so far indicates they are safe.
"If you are trying to become pregnant now or want to get pregnant in the future, you may receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to you," the CDC advises, adding that the vaccines would continue to be studied well into the future. "There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems."
Guidance from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists mirrors the recommendation of the CDC. "Unfounded claims linking COVID-19 vaccines to infertility have been scientifically disproven," the agency said in December.
Social media posts claim that women’s menstrual cycles and fertility are affected by being around people who have received COVID-19 vaccines.
There is no mechanism by which unvaccinated individuals can contract any sort of side effects from people who are vaccinated, and there is no evidence showing a link between menstrual irregularities, fertility and the vaccines. We rate this claim False.
Instagram post, April 15, 2021
Facebook post, April 15, 2021
Instagram post, April 18, 2021
Montana Daily Gazette, Unvaccinated women report miscarriages after interactions with vaccinated people, April 16, 2021
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Information about COVID-19 vaccines for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, accessed April 19, 2021
CDC, Myths and facts about COVID-19 vaccines, updated April 15, 2021
PolitiFact, COVID-19 vaccines did not cause a 366% increase in miscarriages, as article claims, April 2, 2021
Harvard Health Blog, Wondering about COVID-19 vaccines if you’re pregnant or considering pregnancy?, Jan. 7, 2021
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Vaccinating pregnant and lactating patients against COVID-19, December 2020 (updated March 24, 2021)
Dr. Jennifer Gunter blog, The COVID-19 vaccine is a vaccine, not a spell, April 19, 2021
Dr. Jennifer Gunter blog, The COVID-19 vaccine and menstrual irregularities, April 12, 2021
Instagram post by Dr. Risa Hoshino, April 19, 2021
New York Times, No, we don’t know if coronavirus vaccines change your period, April 20, 2021
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