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week of July 14, 2022

Male fertility

The claim:

A rumor that we cannot explain claims that the COVID vaccine is causing male infertility. 🤷🏻‍♀️

The facts:

Recent studies have shown that COVID infection can negatively impact sperm quality. Because of those reports, some folks are conflating what COVID can do and what the vaccine might do. IF COVID causes low sperm quality, could the vaccine also cause fertility problems for men?

But there is no evidence for that vaccines have these same risks. These vaccine skeptics are ignoring the fact that those people with bad sperm actually had COVID itself. The vaccine only asks the body to identify and learn to fight the spike protein of the virus. It does not simulate the entire virus and the damage it can wreak on the body.

In a way, COVID vaccines could prevent possible male infertility.

Death, taxes, and blaming vaccines

The claim:

A new video claims that more vaccinated than unvaccinated people are dying from COVID and that vaccination doesn't matter because death is the primary risk factor.

The facts:

The video linked above is an excellent debunker! For those that can't watch the video, however, the biggest takeaway regarding unvaccinated vs vaccinated dying is this:

The unvaccinated are dying at a far higher rate than the vaccinated. But the raw numbers or even percentages do not tell you anything about the population as a whole.

For example, if you have a population of 100 people; 5 of whom are unvaccinated and 95 are vaccinated; you wouldn't say the vaccine doesn't work if 3 vaccinated and 2 unvaccinated people die just because more vaccinated than unvaccinated died. You need to look at the rates at which they did to compare. Only 3/95 (or 3%) vaccinated people died, while 2/5 (or 40%) unvaccinated people died. Straight numbers tell the wrong story about how well the vaccine works.

We have entered a time when nearly 3/4 of all people over 16 in the United States are fully vaccinated against COVID. Any claims made with straight numbers are inaccurate.

mRNA and human cell lines

The claim:

A particular U.S. Supreme Court Justice in a dissenting opinion on vaccine mandates repeated a claim that the COVID mRNA vaccines were developed in human fetal cell lines.

The facts:

Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites that need host cells to grow. Since human cells are sometimes best for growing human viruses, some vaccines use cell lines derived from two elective pregnancy terminations back in the 60s. Because these cell lines are practically immortal, manufacturers can continue using this cell line; there are no new sources of human fetal cells.

While the viral vector COVID vaccine does use fetal cells in vaccine production, the mRNA vaccines do not. Because we are only synthesizing the mRNA, and not growing the virus, plasmids are used instead of human or other animal cells. Human cell lines were used in the early stages of mRNA technology development, only to research that they would theoretically work. However, these cells are not used in mRNA vaccine production. 

Even with the remoteness of the issue of abortion to the vaccines in use, some people still have moral questions. 

The Vatican advised adherents in 2005  about the acceptability of receiving some live, attenuated vaccines. To further clarify that statement, the Vatican issued another statement in 2017, which reads: "the moral obligation to guarantee the vaccination coverage necessary for the safety of others is no less urgent."

Pope Francis, who was vaccinated in January 2021, is quoted as saying, "I believe that morally everyone must take the vaccine." Given the moral obligation to protect one's community and the unlikelihood that people will get to choose vaccines the way they choose toppings at Subway, people of all faiths should take the vaccine they are offered.

Of course, people of other faiths may have their own hesitations about vaccines for similar reasons, so it is important for us all to build bridges with the faith-based organizations in our communities.

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