Health authorities are working to dispel misinformation that COVID vaccines could affect fertility, as vaccine hesitancy amongst young women continues to rate above the national average. The New South Wales health minister last week warned the lasting effects of COVID are far more likely to result in fertility problems.
In a clinic east of Melbourne, Dr Stacey Harris says there’s one vaccine question that she’s come to expect from patients under 40.
"Can it affect their periods? Can it affect having a baby? Lots of questions but they're the main ones around that age group.”
Her answer is always the same.
“We're looking straight at the science here: we're not looking at what politicians say, we're not looking at what the media says, we're looking at the science and the studies now are robust and they're showing they (vaccines) don't have an effect on fertility."
Melbourne Institute research shows women aged between 18 and 44 years are the country's most reluctant demographic to get the shot.
Health economist at the Institute Professor Anthony Scott says the latest trends show vaccine hesitancy is reducing.
“In July hesitancy was up to about 40% but now it’s dropped to about 25%, so hesitancy amongst women, particularly amongst women who want to have kids, has come quite a lot.”
The beginnings of the vaccine-fertility link can be traced back to early last year after a small number of women reported changes to their menstrual cycles after receiving a dose of vaccine.
Infertility claims later emerged online but were quickly dismissed by medical experts.
The federal government’s chief nursing and midwifery officer, Alison McMillan, says the claims were based on a misunderstanding of how the vaccine works.
“It’s a disproven theory based on the idea of the spike proteins. We look at the evidence, we carefully consider this in ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) and the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration).”
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