Surgeon general addresses public on vaccine fertility concerns, natural immunity, and reported side effects

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and U.S. education secretary Miguel Cardona joined “Special Report” on Thursday to address some of the looming questions surrounding the vaccine and President Biden’s updated COVID-19 guidance.

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The following questions have been submitted by members of the public and have been edited for clarity: 

Question: Do the antibodies that result from contracting the coronavirus offer more immunity than the vaccine?

“This is a really important question,” Murthy told host Bret Baier. “What we know is that there are two ways that you can get protection. The vaccine is the one that has been studied the most and most reliable one. We know that when you get the infection, you can get some degree of protection. What we’re less clear about is how long that protection lasts. 

“But,” he continued, “here’s what the research has told us very clearly If you get infected, and then you get a dose of vaccine, you boost your antibody levels, your protection up to incredible levels so you are even more protected. If you compare people who have had a previous infection and those who got the vaccine and those who didn’t, what you find is that those who are not vaccinated after their infection are more than twice as likely to get reinfection with COVID compared to those who got the vaccine.”

Question: Have there been studies surrounding the psychological impact of children who are forced to wear masks in the classroom? 

“There was a lot of missed instruction, but I think also…what I have heard from students in my visits to different states and from my own two children, [is] they miss their friends,” Cardona said. “They miss being with their teachers, so that social interaction, that access to extracurricular activities, they have missed that….and for many students, including my own children, they don’t like wearing the masks, but they know that if that’s their ticket to having in person learning they are going to do it.”

Question: Does it make sense to deliberately expose our children to COVID-19? The possibility of them dying from is minimal. Perhaps we can expose them to COVID and give them a natural immunity, like we do with the chickenpox, in our home?

“It’s a reasonable question to ask,” Murthy said. “Here’s what we know. Even though kids do better than older adults whether it comes to that comes to COVID-19, COVID is not harmless in our children. Over this past year and a half, we have lost hundreds of children to COVID-19. We have had thousands hospitalized. We had one of our highest levels of COVID hospitalizations among kids right now.”

“We also know about ‘long COVID’ which is that syndrome where kids can experience shortness of breath and fatigue and other symptoms for months after their infection. That affects a not insignificant number of children. The significant things for us to weigh risks and benefits here. When we do that, we see that getting vaccinated is actually a much lower risk and higher benefit proposition than allowing our kids to get COVID and run the risk of having complications.”

Question: The complications from the vaccine have been minimal, but there have been some reported. Can you address that?

“They have seen with the MRNA vaccines in particular, this is the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine, that there are rare side effects of what is called myocarditis,” Murthy said. “It’s an inflammation of the heart muscle that might sound worrisome. But the good news these cases are typically mild and these cases usually resolve often without much treatment. Bottom line is, our kids do fine. What’s interesting is when you look at kids who get COVID, their risk of having myocarditis is markedly higher than kids who get the vaccine plus they’ve got a long list of other complications from the virus.”

Question: Does the vaccine affect fertility?

“The bottom line is there is absolutely no evidence that the vaccine has an impact on your fertility, whether you are a man or woman,” Murthy said. “I have certainly seen that circulating on social media. A lot of people bought into that because they don’t know that it might not be true… we have seen many people actually get pregnant after they get the vaccine. We have seen many people who’ve gotten the vaccine during pregnancy and done very well.”

Question: What is the science behind mask-wearing? I have been unable to find research that supports the claim that masks prevent the spread of the virus.

“Here is what people should know about masks,” Murthy said. ” Where is no single intervention that prevents the spread of COVID-19. But masks do work to reduce the likelihood of the spread. The time when they work best is when everyone is wearing masks. The person worried about getting infected and the person who may be infected. In our schools, that is true as well.

“We see across the country when masks are being worn, the incidents of spread of COVID-19 is less, so masks do work.”

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