COVID-19 vaccine shedding – another anti-vaccine myth to scare people

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Here we go again – an expensive, privileged Miami private school has banned teachers who received the COVID-19 vaccine because of “shedding” concerns. Yes, you read that right, the school wrote to teachers that “we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known.”

The school’s co-founder, Leila Centner, claimed that those people who had received the COVID-19 vaccine can somehow shed the spike protein, which in turn can cause menstrual cycle irregularities, miscarriages, and sterility in other women just by being in close proximity to vaccinated people who are shedding something.

Centner wrote, “we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known.” She must get this nonsense from Kelly Brogan, anti-vaccine quack, who seems to have something with Centner and this school

Centner cited debunked claims that the vaccine causes infertility based on “reports have surfaced recently of non-vaccinated people being negatively impacted by interacting with people who have been vaccinated. Let’s be clear that that the scientific consensus about this vaccine is that is very effective and carries few risks.

Simply put, COVID-19 vaccine shedding does not exist, but I will spend a few moments debunking it again.

COVID-19 vaccines and shedding

Let start right at the top – some vaccines can, in very rare circumstances, shed viruses. It’s one of the few anti-vaccine myths that have a tiny kernel of truth associated with it.

So, what is vaccine shedding?

According to Vaxopedia,

Shedding occurs when an infectious agent, typically a virus, can be found in urine, stool, and other bodily secretions. Shedding is not specific to vaccines though. Shedding occurs very commonly after natural infections too, which is one reason they are so hard to control.

Shedding does not occur in vaccines that use “inactivated” viruses, or the infectious agent, in this case, viruses, are essentially dead. In the USA,  the DTaP, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Hib, flu, IPV, HPV, meningococcal, pneumococcal, and Tdap vaccines are inactivated and cannot shed.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

On the other hand, COVID-19 vaccines have no virus, inactivated or otherwise, so by definition they cannot shed anything.

Let me remind everyone about each COVID-19 vaccine, just so we’re clear about the lack of potential of shedding. The mRNA vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, deliver an mRNA, or messenger RNA, segment to cells which then produce the S-protein antigen of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This induces an immune response that protects the individual against COVID-19 infection.

The mRNA segments stays in the cells until they are destroyed after a few minutes. It goes nowhere, it cannot shed. The S-protein also doesn’t go anywhere – it cannot replicate, it does not shed.

The COVID-19 vaccines from JNJ and AstraZeneca work in a slightly different manner. Basically, the adenovirus vector “carries” the genes for the S-protein to the cell which will reproduce the protein, then inducing the immune response. The adenovirus is engineered to not replicate, so it also cannot shed.

So, no COVID-19 vaccine has anything to do with shedding. Anyone who receives these vaccines will not miraculously send their mRNA or the S-protein across the air to others. And even if it did, it’s not going to do anything, because mRNA simply wouldn’t survive floating across the air.

Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

The adenovirus or mRNA vaccines work in a manner that causes the cells of our body to produce the antigens against which our immune system is “trained” to recognize the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Shedding is just another one of those false claims pushed by desperate anti-vaxxers engaging in fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

And as for the teachers at this school for privileged children, pseudoscience will be the basis of their treatment by the school:

The letter sent to the Centner Academy staff last week gave employees two options to remain employed through the end of the school year: Teachers could either remain distanced from students if they had already received a coronavirus vaccine or delay vaccination and teach in person.

That letter also told teachers that, if they chose to receive the vaccination, they would only be allowed to return after summer break when clinical trials had been completed — and only if they had not already been replaced by the school in the meantime, the Times reported.

The anti-vaccine nonsense from this school on COVID-19 vaccine shedding is disgusting and embarrassing. I cannot believe that they’re responsible for teaching children anything.



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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!