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Drawing from a narrative interview study with people who had, and recovered from COVID-19, this paper examines participants' concerns regarding imperilled fertility, which featured in many narratives about immunity to COVID-19 and decisions over COVID-19 vaccines, especially women participants. Approaching these vaccine anxieties from an intersectional perspective, we explore narratives of imagined fertility being disrupted by COVID-19 vaccines – narratives that are socially contoured by race/ethnicity, gender and life course stage, and position within families. Such participants faced the risk of transgressing gendered reproductive expectations which cast life-making as a hallowed and unquestioned – yet at the same time transgressing expectations that model citizens will accept the vaccine and not go against the herd. Taking forward work on the tensions between vaccines being between protective of extant life, and threatening to future life, we explore deferral of vaccine decisions as a way of accommodating multiple expectations of good reproductive citizenship, and consider how institutions could become more trustworthy in light of fertility anxieties.

Original publication




Journal article


Women's Studies International Forum

Publication Date