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Misinformation about COVID vaccine and infertility raises alarm for women

The facts about COVID vaccine and infertility
False links between COVID vaccine and infertility raise alarm among women 02:09

New York — As widespread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and infertility took hold on social media, the rumors spread as rapidly as the virus itself and scared some women from getting a shot.

Jay Huber, a fertility doctor in New Orleans, is asked daily by his patients if the vaccine causes infertility. He said there's no evidence of that happening.

"I think it's important to debunk the myths because patients should have access to accurate information," Huber told CBS News.

So then, what is the biggest misconception?

"This concept that the vaccination will actually train the human immune system to create an antibody that would cross-react with the vital placenta protein, which would ultimately cause infertility," he said.

The unfounded fear, Huber said, is that an antibody would not only attack the virus but the placenta as well.

Stacey Clarke, a 36-year-old nurse, is receiving fertility treatments from Huber. She fears the vaccine could somehow affect her ability to get pregnant.

"It's just too soon to put something foreign in my body going through what I'm going through," she said. "There's a lot of emotion. Because I've done this twice before and it was not successful."

Clarke said the thought of becoming infertile has crossed her mind, but Huber reassured her.

"He, of course, very much feels that there's enough evidence for me to get the vaccine," she said of their discussions. "So we've come to an agreement for the time being."

Clarke said many of her female colleagues share those fears. 

"We very much have the same feeling on the vaccine ... We just don't know the long-term effects on ourselves or on the fetus," she said.

Huber addressed that issue: "I don't think reproductive women should be concerned about their future fertility if they get this COVID-19 vaccine. The data we have thus far is that the vaccine is very safe."

Clarke said she doesn't think there is anything that would change her mind about the vaccine. Not even this cautionary tale from 35-year-old Anna Almendrala. She became ill with COVID after her fertility treatment.

In a video she can be seen lying prone, gasping for air.

"The scary thing is that things can change on a dime with this virus," she said.

Days later, she was in the hospital, writing a goodbye letter to her daughter.

When asked what she would say to women who do not want the vaccine at all, Almendrala referenced how prevalent COVID is across the U.S.

"I'd say at this point ... with the virus so widespread, you're either choosing between getting the vaccine or getting COVID," she said.

Almadrala said that she's relieved there's a vaccine and she will gladly take it — when it's her turn.

"I think what this experience has really shown us is that we already have so much to be grateful for," she said. "I almost felt like I was a couple of days away from losing everything."

Read more from our CBS News series "Women and the Pandemic" below:

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