A medical staff member inoculates a woman with a dose of a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at a shopping mall in Bangkok. (AFP / Jack Taylor)

Online posts mislead on birth control pills and Covid-19 vaccination

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Multiple posts shared repeatedly on Facebook warn women to avoid taking birth control pills two weeks before and two weeks after their Covid-19 vaccination. The posts claim that failure to do so will result in blood clots and death. The posts are misleading: health experts say there is no credible scientific evidence that birth control pills pose risks when taken alongside Covid-19 vaccines.

The claim was shared on Facebook here on May 30, 2021.

The Thai-language post translates to English as: “If you take birth control pills, you can’t get covid-19 vaccines. You have to stop 14 days before and after the jab to avoid the risk of blood clotting and die.”

A screenshot of the misleading post taken on June 15, 2021

The post circulated online after Dr. Thiravat Hemachudha, an infectious diseases specialist at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, shared a similar claim here on his Facebook page on May 29, 2021.

The post reads: “Women using estrogen for contraception should stop at least 14 days prior to vaccination, if possible.”

Thailand launched a mass Covid-19 vaccination drive in early June 2021 as it sought to beat a wave of infections, AFP reported

A similar claim was shared in Facebook posts here, here, here and here.

The posts, however, are misleading.

'No risks'

“Those who use all types of hormonal birth control pills can get Covid-19 vaccination without having to stop,” reads this advisory published by The Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists on May 31, 2021.

“Based on the present data of the research studies of women getting Covid-19 vaccines, there are no risks of getting blood clots whatsoever,” the organisation said.

“I certainly do not recommend women to stop taking birth control pills,” Dr. Unnop Jaisamrarn, secretary-general of the organisation, told AFP on June 14, 2021.

“They should take it continuously for the highest efficiency of birth control and to avoid unintended pregnancy,” he said.

“Dr. Thiravat is probably concerned, but the possibility of blood clotting among women who take birth control pills is very low when compared to those who don’t,” Dr. Unnop added.

Responding to the misleading posts, Dr. Thiravat Hemachudha said his advice on birth control pills and Covid-19 vaccination was misquoted on social media.

“As for hormone and birth control pills, I didn’t mean that you should stop taking them,” he told AFP on June 10.

 Blood clots

Thailand has not reported any cases of blood clots after administering around 5 million doses of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines, Dr. Kajornsak Kaewcharat, the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Disease Control told AFP on June 15.

“As of today we don’t see any direct side effects related to blood clotting, but rather common side effects such as body pain,” Dr. Kajornsak said.

Concerns about blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine prompted the Thai government to briefly suspend the jab in March 2021, AFP reported.

Authorities cleared it for use days later. Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha became the first person in the country to receive the jab on March 16, 2021.