COVID-19 vaccinations: fertility and pregnancy

The issue of how COVID-19 vaccines may impact fertility and/or pregnancy continues to be live. Health Minister Robin Swann told the Stormont health committee on 14 January 2021, that an anti-vaccination group targeted young female healthcare staff outside vaccination centres, saying COVID-19 vaccination would affect their fertility. He added that this message was “quite negative, quite wrong, potentially quite damaging”. This was also reported in the local media.

These particular anti-vaccination campaigners are not alone in this view. Theories are being spread across social media, particularly about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, about how a protein on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the virus which causes COVID-19), called a “spike protein” works. 

This is where it gets a little complicated.  Continue reading COVID-19 vaccinations: fertility and pregnancy

Is a quarter of Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 unvaccinated population unlikely to get jab?

CLAIM: A quarter of Northern Ireland’s population that is unvaccinated for COVID-19 is unlikely to ever get the vaccine.

CONCLUSION: ACCURATE WITH CONSIDERATION. A survey by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) reported that 24% of respondents who had not been vaccinated said that they were “fairly unlikely” or “very unlikely” to get the vaccine. However the headline fails to give context. Only 22% of respondents have not been vaccinated, so the cohort unlikely to get the vaccine represents 5% of those surveyed.  Continue reading Is a quarter of Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 unvaccinated population unlikely to get jab?

Some suggestions when handling COVID-19 leaflets

Some suggestions when handling COVID-19 leaflets
30 July 2021

A number of leaflets about COVID-19 vaccines and their safety have been circulating in Northern Ireland. FactCheckNI has previously fact checked many of these claims. What is notable is how these leaflets are designed to communicate a lot of information, and more often than not are attributed to a specific group that may not previously have been well known (or indeed, known at all).  Continue reading Some suggestions when handling COVID-19 leaflets

Pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines

On 16 April 2021, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised that all pregnant people should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the rest of the population, in line with the age group roll out. 

Prior to this, they had recommended a risk-based approach and said that pregnant people with high risk medical conditions — and met the definition of being “clinically extremely vulnerable” — should consider having a COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy. This was because they viewed that their underlying condition may put them at a higher risk of experiencing serious complications of COVID-19.

However, the guidance regarding vaccination against COVID-10 during pregnancy has changed as new research and evidence has emerged. 

It has been indicated that it is preferable for pregnant people in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available, as there is more safety data available on these vaccines in pregnancy. Continue reading Pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines

COVID-19 vaccines and aborted fetuses

UPDATE: This article was updated on 27 July 2021, in response to a query about whether an mRNA vaccine by CureVac uses fetal cell lines in any stage of its development. It does not. This article was previously updated on 2 February 2021 to explain about the use of MRC-5 and HEK 293 cell lines in the design and testing of some vaccines.

By December 2020, there were 78 COVID-19 vaccines in development. Thirteen were in third stage trials, and seven already had limited approval for use. The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine was the first to be approved for use in the UK on 2 December 2020.

Concerns have been expressed on social media that COVID-19 vaccines are made from aborted fetuses, and some people object to the vaccines on religious and ethical grounds.

Most of the COVID-19 vaccines in development do not use human cell lines in their production. For example, Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technology.  Continue reading COVID-19 vaccines and aborted fetuses