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VERIFY: Is it safe to get COVID-19 vaccine when on birth control pills? Clarifying coronavirus effects on women's health

Is it dangerous for women on birth control pills to contract COVID-19? Should pregnant or nursing women get vaccinated? We answer how coronavirus can affect women.

TOLEDO, Ohio — As the COVID-19 vaccinations start rolling out across the country, women have started wondering on social media about the effects the immunization can have on their health. 

A viewer sent us the following question, "Is it safe to get the COVID vaccine when on birth control pills?" 

We turned to ProMedica's coronavirus expert, Dr. Brian Kaminski, to answer some key questions about the coronavirus and women's health. 

Kaminski said the good news is there are very few contraindications to receiving the vaccine and they mostly relate to allergies to vaccines themselves or components that are in the vaccine. He added he recommends everybody who is eligible to get the immunization take their doses. 

"As it relates to birth control, birth control in and of itself is not a contraindication to receiving the vaccine," he said. "So women who take birth control should receive the vaccine as well as long as there are no other reasons that they shouldn't receive it." 

But what about women who are pregnant or nursing? Should they receive the vaccine? 

Kaminski said anyone who is pregnant or nursing should consult with their OBGYN or physician prior to receiving any treatment. But medical experts have come a long way when it comes to the risks of vaccinating this group of women since the population started getting their shots, he said.

"Recipients in the trials that were pregnant and were lactating that received the vaccine did not demonstrate adverse effects. So, on Dec. 21, the American College of Obstreticians and Gynecologists actually released a statement on this. And they do not believe the vaccine should be held for either of those groups," Kaminski said.

The doctor also noted higher health risks to women who are on birth control pills getting sick with the coronavirus. 

"One of the complications of COVID as a disease is blood clotting. So a lot of people who contract COVID will experience blood clotting in various parts of their body. And sometimes it can be dangerous and even fatal," he said. "We know that certain types of birth control, when we're talking about oral contraceptives, can increase the risk of blood clotting. And then when you combine that with contracting COVID, that risk is amplified." 

Blood clots form when certain parts of the blood thinken, forming a semisolid mass that can travel to other parts of the body and cause harm, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

However, some medical news outlets have published stories online about one study that reported evidence that women taking birth control pills had their chances of contracting coronavirus reduced. 

Kaminski said that study was performed in England and hasn't been rigorously examined in a peer review setting. Additionally, he would take caution when looking at it because the research didn't find that this group of women wouldn't get the disease. 

"In their study, the results were really minimal, meaning that only a small percentage of women were less likely to get the disease or get severe disease on the birth control pill," he said. "But once you get it and you're on the birth control pill, your risks go up again. So, we definitely wouldn't want to promote or tell people that taking the birth control will prevent them from getting sick or from contracting the disease." 

So we can VERIFY there is no evidence of the COVID-19 vaccine causing harm to women on birth control pills; the American College of Obstreticians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant or nursing women shouldn't be withheld from getting the COVID-19 vaccine; women on birth control pills are at higher risk of developing blood clots when getting sick with the coronavirus and; taking birth control pills does not prevent women from getting COVID-19. 

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