COVID vaccine

Chicago's Top Doctor Addresses Vaccine Questions Sparked by Nicki Minaj Tweet

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A tweet from Nicki Minaj sparked questions and concerns from many, spreading what experts say was misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine.

Since COVID vaccinations began, experts have sought to debunk certain claims about the vaccine and fertility and pregnancy.

But on Monday, Minaj tweeted that her cousin in Trinidad, where the singer is from, "won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen."

Chicago's top doctor addressed Minaj's tweet directly during a Facebook Live Tuesday.

"I did respond on Twitter just to say that... all three of the vaccines shown in the U.S., it's been studied, no impacts on fertility in men, or in women," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "And in fact, there have been good studies for women, that if they are vaccinated when they give birth that the babies actually can pass some immunity on to their children."

She tweeted again later Tuesday that "there are still studies underway, but there is currently no evidence that ANY vaccines, including COVID vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men."

As reported earlier this year, some people who menstruate saw changes to their periods after getting vaccinated, but Arwady said there have been no signs of any long-lasting symptoms.

"...Very clear there's not been any link to, you know, problems with fertility, you know, anything that's long-lasting but, you know, the goal of getting a vaccine is for your immune system to learn how to protect yourself against COVID and your immune system can interact, can interface with your, you know, your hormonal levels, etc. and so there is at least some biological plausibility that you could have, you know, some change in terms of a heavier period or a lighter period for example right after getting the vaccination," Arwady said in April.

In late April, the CDC announced it was recommending shots for pregnant women after preliminary data showed that Pfizer's and Moderna's vaccines were safe for women as well as their babies. The guidance indicated studies found "no obvious safety signals" surrounding vaccination in pregnant women.

"Women who are pregnant and get Covid have worse experiences with the infection than do non-pregnant women," CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said at a U.S. Senate hearing in mid-May. "More time in the intensive care unit, more risk of severe outcomes including those rare deaths..."

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that COVID-19 vaccines "should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP-recommended priority groups."

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, according to ACOG.

The CDC said those trying to become pregnant now or who want to get pregnant in the future can receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available to them.

"There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems," the CDC states. "CDC does not recommend routine pregnancy testing before COVID-19 vaccination. If you are trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Like all vaccines, scientists are studying COVID-19 vaccines carefully for side effects now and will report findings as they become available."

No evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause male fertility problems, according to the CDC.

A study of 45 healthy men who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine looked at sperm characteristics, like quantity and movement, before and after vaccination, the CDC stated. Researchers found no significant changes in these sperm characteristics after vaccination.

Arwady encouraged people to check the information they are receiving.

"If you're hearing about fertility, if you're hearing about something happening, you know, a year later, if you're hearing about, you know, I don't even know - please have your antenna up around misinformation," she said. "Because - and it's true actually for really all the vaccines, like the previously approved vaccines - where they've had trouble that usually shows up in the first six to eight weeks. It's not that we see problems with the vaccine sort of years down the line."

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