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Covid vaccine potentially causing infertility is a ‘complete myth’ at this point: Doctor

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Dr. Payal Patel, Infectious Diseases Physician, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Welcome back. Los Angeles is about to become the first major school district in the country to mandate coronavirus vaccines for students 12 and older who are attending classes in-person. It is the second largest school district in the country. It serves over 600,000 students. And it can certainly set an important national precedent.

Here to discuss that and more now is Infectious Disease Physician Dr. Payal Patel. Doctor, good to see you again. And I want to start with this mandate that should soon be coming from the LA school district mandating vaccines for students 12 and older. What are your thoughts on that and do you believe we're going to see more school districts do this across the country?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah, I think it's really important when we think about this to remember that, actually, mandating vaccines in schools, colleges, for the military is 100-year-old practice, right? And we know that we've all sent kids ourselves-- we've been to school, had to get vaccines at the doctor's office before we showed up for school, including things like meningitis for college.

And the reason that that happens is you just don't want a preventable death in a school setting or a college setting. And so I want to kind of emphasize that this isn't a unique thing. What's unique is that we're in the middle of an infectious disease pandemic, we have a very effective vaccine, so I think it makes a lot of sense to have vaccines mandated for students. What's interesting is in this area, about 58% of kids above 12 are already vaccinated. You're going to start seeing those schools and those classrooms becoming much more safe as many more of the kids and teachers are vaccinated.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So, doctor, let's sort of move through some of these mythbusters, if you will-- some of the reasons why parents may not want to get their children vaccinated. Something I keep hearing a lot about but I don't believe there is any scientific evidence for is the concern that the vaccine could cause infertility in their children. What do you say to those parents?

PAYAL PATEL: There is nothing that has-- nothing at all that links to this. This is a complete myth. At this point, the professional organizations, CDC, government, doctors worldwide would recommend that children, pregnant women, right, especially if you're a pregnant woman, should get vaccinated because, in fact, you're protecting a baby, a child by getting it vaccinated rather than leaving it at risk for infection from COVID.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: OK, well, what about people who say, you know what? This is still not a virus that is serious for younger people. When you look at the overall number of cases and the overall number of hospitalizations and deaths, young people, children still make up a fraction of the overall number. What would you say to those folks?

PAYAL PATEL: I would challenge that person to just look at the Children's Hospital in their area. I would challenge them to speak to a pediatrician or a pediatric infectious disease physician. The thing is, again, one preventable death-- we do so much to prevent that for other infections, we should do the same for COVID-19.

I know that when we're thinking about our own kids, we want to protect them at all costs from all sorts of things-- football accidents or car accidents. That's why you have them wear a seatbelt. We know the vaccine works, and that is going to be the best way to get kids back into a safe school setting.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I want to move on to boosters now. There's a lot of confusion around when we're going to need one, who's going to have to get one. We know the World Health Organization criticizing the timeline of those boosters, saying they want a moratorium on them not to be given out until at least the end of the year. They say we have to get poorer countries vaccinated first.

What are your feelings on that, if it sort of is an ethical question-- and can we do both at the same time? Is the supply there, do you think?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah, you know, I was thinking about this today, and I fear that people think that once, you know, the eight months is up from their last vaccine, that they're completely at risk again as if they were unvaccinated. I want to reassure people who've gotten the vaccine that the booster is intended, really, to prevent even mild infection and definitely prevent them from going to the hospital or dying.

But you are still very much more protected if you've gotten your vaccine and are now trying to figure out when you're going to get the booster than if you were unvaccinated. So that's the first piece of advice. It's a very complex question. It makes a lot of sense to get as many shots into as many arms worldwide as possible.

That will really be protecting everyone in the world. At the same time, in the US, we know that there are some people with immunocompromised systems who are still at risk, even after they've gotten their first and second shot. So I think targeting which populations will benefit from a booster now is really the way to go forward.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And what about this idea of combining the coronavirus and influenza shots into one? I know that Novavax came out today and said they're launching early stage trials to test the safety and efficacy of a vaccine such as that. Do you think that we're going to see Pfizer and Moderna do the same in the not too distant future?

PAYAL PATEL: It's a great question. I think that, you know, Novavax is really interesting-- they have an effective vaccine that they have been waiting to kind of put out into the world. And we've already had all these other effective vaccines. So what can you do?

You try to think of an even better way to get your vaccine out. And you know, killing two birds with one stone-- if you could get one jab, be protected against the flu and COVID, that makes a lot of sense. So I hope that people are thinking about how to efficiently get vaccines into arms in the future.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You know, doctor, last year we saw instances of the flu-- the seasonal flu-- be basically nil. So many of us were masked and there was all that social distancing, that fewer and fewer people got the seasonal flu. What about this year? I know flu season is just in its infancy right now. What are you seeing? And if you already got the vaccine, the COVID vaccine, should you go out and get that extra flu vaccine? Some people think that's too much vaccine for me, I don't want to have to get both. I got the COVID one, I should be fine.

PAYAL PATEL: So, great question. You know, I think that our actions, our behaviors as a public have totally changed since last winter, right? We didn't even have a vaccine for some of those months of winter, so we were acting completely differently, especially vaccinated folks. So what I would say is knowing your own behavior, you are acting a little bit differently, probably, if you got the vaccine.

I would definitely encourage getting the flu shot. I'm pretty sure we're going to see more flu this year. Behavior has changed for the nation and internationally. So I would say one thing that we know every year, year to year the reason we recommend the flu shot is the flu outsmarts the shot every year. That's why we have yearly flu shots. That hasn't changed. And you know, if you need your vaccine, just go get it.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, we're going to leave it there. Dr. Payal Patel, always good to see you. Thanks so much.