Can Covid vaccine cause infertility or allergic reactions? Sheffield health chief addresses questions and conspiracies

Sheffield’s Director of Public Health Greg Fell has addressed a large number of conspiracies and concerns about the Covid-19 vaccines, reassuring the public that it is safe for everybody.

Friday, 5th February 2021, 8:01 am

This comes after Mr Fell confirmed that around 70 per cent of new Covid-19 cases in Sheffield were the new ‘Kent variant’, which is more contagious that previous strains.

He added that it was ‘only a matter of time’ before the mutations from South Africa and Brazil were also detected.

However, he confirmed the vaccines are still effective against new strains.

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Harbans Kaur, 78, from Smethwick, being vaccinated against coronavirus - PA/ASDA

Here is what he had to say about many of the concerns related to vaccination.

Were the vaccines developed too quickly to be safe?

“[To say] they’ve been developed so fast they can’t be safe is factually wrong. All Covid vaccines have undergone rigorous testing. The speed with which the vaccine was developed was largely to do with cutting red tape rather than cutting corners.

"Increases in funding which was made available immediately; improvements in technology; many thousands of volunteers were willing to be tested and part of the trial – all of those things contributed to a speedy vaccine development in a way that we’ve never seen before. It was a global effort that allowed scientists to work together at record speed and complete year’s worth of work in a matter of months.

"Think of it like this: the vaccines went business class. The went through the same security tests as economy class, but without the queues.

Can the vaccines change your DNA?

"I’m hearing this mNRA vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine, can change your DNA. It’s not true.It’s physiologically impossible. There’s no way that RNA can change the DNA of anyone.

"RNA teaches ourselves to make a protein that triggers the protective immune response. The RNA is then broken down as soon as it enters the body. It is worth noting that the RNA never enters the nucleus of the cell where the DNA is.”

Are the vaccines being tested continuously?

“All the Covid vaccines have been tested on somewhere between 15,000 and 50,000 people in vaccine trials from people across the world. They have been tested on men and women, on people from all ethnic backgrounds, on people between the ages of 18 and 84.

"The results are really clear. They say that the vaccine is safe in all age groups.

"As the vaccine is tolled out we will continue to test and monitor to get more and more information. So don’t assume there’s no further monitoring that’s done continually and testing is always underway."

Could I have an allergic reaction to the vaccine? Are there side effects?

“Millions of people around the world have had Covid-19 vaccines and serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, are very, very rare.

"All foods and medicines have a very small chance of a side effect – even Paracetamol has a chance of side effects. No person anywhere in the world has suffered irreversible side effects either in trials or the bigger population.

"Side effects could include a sore arm, feeling tired or feeling achey. You can use painkillers, such as Paracetamol, if you need to.

"No long term complications have been reported from the Covid vaccine.

"Thus far thousands of people in Sheffield have taken the Covid vaccine and no complications have been reported.”

What are the contents of the vaccine? Is it vegan and vegetarian friendly and suitable for Muslim and Jewish populations?

“Both vaccines used in England – the Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines – do not contain any meat or any porcine ingredients. The British Islamic Medical Association and the Muslim Council of Britain have confirmed this.

"The vaccines do not contain do not contain, nor have they been produced, using foetal cell lines.

"It is correct that many vaccines are made in that way but none of the Covid vaccines being administered in the country contain any foetal cells at all.”

Are vaccines being used to ‘track’ people?

"Microchips in the vaccine is a commonly occurring thing in my social media timeline. There are no microchips in these vaccines. Factually untrue.

"The truth is there are much easier ways to track the population: smart phones, bank cards, rather than biological trackers. There are no microchips in the vaccine in any way, shape or form.”

Does the vaccine protect against the new variant?

"Continuous research on the new strains of Covid-19 has shown clearly that it is highly likely both vaccines are still effective and provide protection against the new strains of the virus.

"Scientists are continually looking at how the vaccine works with different strains of the viruses.

"Viruses often develop new strains and it is important to be clear that the vaccine continues to work when the virus mutates.”

After the vaccine am I protected?

"Short answer: yes.

"Both vaccines provide a really good level of protection. Both will provide a reduced risk of someone’s chance of becoming seriously ill or worse.

"What we don’t know is whether or not the vaccine prevents transmission. It probably does, but we genuinely don’t know that yet.

"Therefore, even if you have had the vaccine, you should continue the general hygiene rules and maintaining social distancing.”

"[It also] will not provide you with immediate protection. It will take a few weeks for the protection to develop.”

Does the vaccine lead to infertility?

“Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have said there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccinations will affect fertility in any way.

"No safety concerns have been reported in very large clinical trials of up to 50,000 people and in that trial were thousands of women who were of childbearing age.

"No safety concerns about fertility have been reported at all.”