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North Dakota doctors answer questions on vaccines, fertility

July 21, 2021 GMT

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Three doctors who specialize in reproductive health appeared in a virtual town hall across North Dakota Wednesday in an attempt to clear up misinformation about effects of COVID-19 vaccines on fertility and pregnancy.

The online forum hosted by state Health Officer Dr. Nizar Wehbi came down to a pair of common themes. The doctors vouched for the safety of vaccinations for couples who want to have a baby and urged people to seek out their doctors or nurse practitioners with any questions.

Dr. Stephanie Broadwell of Sanford Health Fargo, Dr. Stephanie Foughty of Altru Health Devils Lake and Dr. Ana Tobiaz of Sanford Health Bismarck closed the 45-minute session with the same message: Go get the vaccine.

“I can understand that people are scared, people are nervous,” Broadwell said. “I think sometimes there can be information that can be helpful and some that can be somewhat misleading. I think it’s just really hard to digest all the information that is out there and stories that are filtering through that maybe even come from trusted sources.”

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North Dakota’s virus immunization rates are among the lowest in the country, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting Tuesday that less than 40 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated. Those numbers have state health officials worried about a virus surge.

The physicians said there’s no evidence that the vaccines pose added risks to infertility, conception, miscarriages or the health of the baby. They added, however, that patients should voice any concerns to their doctors and there’s no such thing as a dumb question.

“They are the people who take care of you when you’re sick, when you’re having issues,” Foughty said. “They know you well, they can go through this information.”

Said Broadwell, “We don’t have to 100 percent agree on everything we’re speaking but that counseling is very, very important.”