- Myths and false stories about the COVID-19 vaccines been rampantly spreading on parenting Facebook groups (also often referred to as “Mommy Facebook groups”).
- Among the myths most commonly shared in these groups are claims that the vaccines cause infertility, which is false.
- Experts say the most reliable source of information about the pandemic is the CDC.
The spread of medical myths and misinformation isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, it’s been an ongoing issue in the age of social media.
However, the problem seems to have expanded faster and further than ever before during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In part, this has been due to the fact that the disease is relatively new, leaving many people to latch on to conspiracy theories and false “facts” in their search for answers.
In particular, a growing number of conspiracy theories and false stories about the COVID-19 vaccines have been rampantly spreading on parenting Facebook groups (also often referred to as “Mommy Facebook groups”).
To combat the spread of misinformation, Healthline asked medical experts to help debunk some of the most common conspiracy theories and myths about the COVID-19 vaccines that are frequently shared on social media.
“You’re letting yourself be used as a science experiment” is a common retort seen on parenting social media groups when a person shares that they’ve been vaccinated.
But according to epidemiologist and Walden University Core Faculty member Vasileios Margaritis, PhD, MS, nothing could be further from the truth.
“Although it seems that COVID-19 vaccines were developed in a record time, this is one of medical research’s greatest achievements,” Margaritis said. “They are the result of an unprecedented international scientific collaboration as well as of an enormous financial and human resources allocation.”
He explained that the technology for these vaccines has actually existed for many years. The vaccine manufacturers were only able to develop these vaccines now because of the hard work that had previously been done.
That, combined with the large amount of funding and effort that went into moving that work forward once a need arose, allowed for these lifesaving vaccines to be developed now.
“All laboratory and clinical trials were conducted in compliance with the most rigorous rules, standards and ethical criteria, without compromising the safety of the participants,” Margaritis said. “The vaccines were approved quickly for emergency use because red tape was cut, not corners.”
And even now, he said, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the scientific community is continuing to closely monitor the vaccination process worldwide to ensure the safety of vaccinated populations.
According to epidemiologist and public health expert at Parenting Pod, Elizabeth Beatriz, PhD, this claim originated with a letter that shared incorrect information about what was in the vaccines to begin with.
“Even though the information is false, it spread like wildfire,” Beatriz said.
She also explained that several women involved in the vaccine trials actually got pregnant shortly after vaccination — meaning they weren’t rendered infertile from the vaccine.
“It is especially important for women who are pregnant or are thinking about getting pregnant to get the vaccine,” added Beatriz, “because if they were to get COVID, the risk of serious consequences are higher if you are pregnant.”
Margaritis explained that this is a very popular myth for one clear reason.
“The national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) accepts and analyzes reports of all health problems after vaccination,” he said. “Anyone can submit a report to VAERS, even the general public, but this report does not mean that a vaccine caused the detected health problem — death included.”
While VAERS can give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA important information (leading to further investigations and actions when necessary), it can be misleading to read too much into those reports without the benefit of context or a scientific background.
“When we are vaccinating millions of people globally, unfortunately, many of them will die for reasons that are unrelated to their body’s response to the vaccine,” Margaritis explained.
What we do know is this: Nearly 600,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the United States alone — making the infection itself the more dangerous scenario.
This myth arose from information similar to the infertility myth, and it’s equally inaccurate.
“Many women have gotten the vaccine while pregnant and successfully come to term with beautiful, healthy babies,” Beatriz said. “This includes women who were in the clinical trial (who got pregnant after vaccination) and women who have gotten vaccinated while pregnant since the vaccine has become available more widely.”