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Correcting this week’s misinformation: week of November 16, 2023

Is the HPV vaccine an agent of depopulation?

The Claim:

One guy on Twitter is claiming that the HPV vaccine is dangerous, causing infertility on purpose as a way to depopulate the planet for some reason. Instead, he recommends a good diet, rest, exercise, and drinking water.

The Facts:

While a good diet, rest, exercise, and staying hydrated are good for your health, they do not help you build immunity to HPV, the major cause of 7 types of cancer, many of which can affect fertility themselves.

Much large-scale research on the effects of HPV vaccines on fertility issues have been done, and they show that the vaccine is not associated with ovarian failure, and may be associated with improved fertility for some women.

A compelling Swedish study of 1.7 million women demonstrates an almost 90% reduction in cervical cancer rates in the vaccinated population versus the unvaccinated population.

Do COVID vaccines cause shingles?

The Claim:

The anti-vaccine ghoul who prowls social media and falsely connects other people’s stories to vaccination is now connecting this woman’s Shingles journey to COVID vaccination.

The Facts:

Shingles is caused by the the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you’ve had chickenpox, the virus can live within your nerve cells and lay dormant until it can reactivate later in life as shingles. While there is a vaccine for chickenpox now, those born before 1995 when the vaccine was first introduced, were likely to have contracted chickenpox. And 30% of all people who contract chickenpox are likely to develop shingles later in life.

So why does this not practicing doctor believe her shingles was the result of a vaccine she spoke about more than a year prior to her developing shingles? While there is some evidence that the vaccine can cause a reactivation of the varicella zoster virus on rare occasions, those tend to happen within days of the vaccine. More importantly, the risk of developing shingles exists with COVID infection itself.

Have flu shots been tested for safety during pregnancy?

The Claim:

A common anti-vaccine claim, again making the rounds, is that flu vaccines have never been tested for safe use during pregnancy.  (This tweet is hidden, btw)

The Facts:

As proof of these claims, anti-vaxxers often note that the flu vaccine inserts make no mention of safety testing during pregnancy. Vaccine inserts are written when the vaccine first comes on the market and include all information available at the time of its writing. The studies cited are usually the original clinical trials, and once the vaccine and its insert are approved by the FDA, the wording cannot be changed.

As noted in the insert, pregnant women were not involved in the vaccine’s clinical trials. In the decades since its release, we have studies to back up the safety of vaccinating during pregnancy. For example, this systematic review of birth outcomes for vaccinated mothers looked at 40 studies and found that with each passing year, we have more evidence that the inactivated flu vaccine is safe for pregnant people and their babies.

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