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Health Leaders Dispel Rumors About COVID-19 Vaccine And Infertility

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Alicia Foster had already received her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine when she got a surprise.

"I never pictured I would be pregnant during a pandemic," she says. "It was not planned."

She thought about whether to go ahead with the second dose.

"There's definitely a degree of paranoia that comes with pregnancy. I've never cared more about what I'm putting into my body," she says.

But she did proceed because she decided it was the right thing to do.

"It was sort of a cost/benefit analysis kind of thing," she says.

Allegheny Health Network obstetrician Dr. Grace Ferguson would agree: the risks of COVID to pregnant women are greater. "They always ask, really earnestly, 'should I be getting the COVID vaccine while I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?' And my answer is always yes."

WATCH: How The Pandemic Has Affected Fertility Treatments

Dr. Ferguson says the rumors about infertility come from part of the vaccine's mRNA sequence being similar to a sequence in the placenta.

"The fear is that the COVID vaccine tells your body to attack placentas, and that is really really unfounded," Dr. Ferguson explains. "Just because my phone number has a 7 and your phone number has a 7 doesn't mean that we'll get the same number. There are so many parts that are different."

Doctors across the state discussed issues like this with Pennsylvania First Lady Francis Wolf and Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson by pointing to the data collected from thousands of vaccinated women.

"Really based on how it works, should not affect the integrity of reproductive cells, it shouldn't change the genetics of the cells," says Dr. Samantha Butts, chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health.

"The data that we have show they're not at any worse risk for pregnancy outcomes," says Dr. Johnson.

"A lot of the risks that people are concerned about are absolutely not increased," Dr. Butts adds. "Things like miscarriage."

"I think a lot of the confusion about the vaccine comes from people seeking sources outside of the medical community," says Catherine Domanska Elliott, women's health nurse practitioner with Lancaster Maternal Fetal Medicine.

"Some folks will focus on the EUA, the emergency use authorization, they'll emphasize the lack of current FDA approval, though we're moving in that direction," Natalie Crouse, a nurse practitioner and senior director of Clinical Operations at Adagio Health, points out.

Dr. Feguson says mRNA vaccines are not as new as they seem: "We've had this kind of technology for over 10 years."

Nevertheless, not everyone agreed with Alicia's decision.

"There was definitely lots of people just being like, 'I can't believe you let them give you a vaccine when you were pregnant,'" she says. "The panic sort of mindset came from other people more than me."

She's carrying twins, and is definitely glad she got vaccinated.

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