• Monday, September 26, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Unvaccinated mothers urge pregnant women to get Covid vaccine

A member of the public prepares to receive a Covid-19 Moderna booster vaccine jab at a temporary coronavirus vaccination centre set up inside St John’s Church in west London on December 4, 2021. (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

AS PART OF a new campaign, unvaccinated women who suffered from Covid-19 during their pregnancies are encouraging expectant mothers to get the vaccine.

They narrate their harrowing stories of battling the virus, from being hospitalised to having emergency c-sections as part of the initiative, a statement has said.

The video features three women who experienced serious complications after contracting Covid-19 before they’d been vaccinated, as well as the doctors and frontline staff who treated them, to warn of the dangers of the virus for pregnant women and their babies.

Medical expert Professor Asma Khalil from Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) is also interviewed as part of the new film and provides further reassurance on the importance of the vaccine.

According to data published by the UK health security agency (UKHSA), vaccines are safe for mothers and their babies, with good birth outcomes for vaccinated women who had their babies up to August this year.

Nearly 1 in 5 Covid-19 patients who are most critically ill are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated. Of those pregnant women in hospital with symptomatic Covid-19, 98 per cent are unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, no fully vaccinated pregnant women were admitted to intensive care with Covid-19 in England between February and the end of September 2021. Around 1 in 5 women who are hospitalised with the virus need to be delivered preterm to help them recover and 1 in 5 of their babies need care in the neonatal unit.

Christina, a mental health therapist from Guildford who was hospitalised with Covid-19 in her third trimester and had to give birth via emergency c-section, said: “I went into hospital in my third trimester, and I thought I was going to deliver a baby but the next thing I know, I was being told I had Covid-19. Symptoms started to arise and I quickly deteriorated. I was rushed in for a CT scan because the doctors feared I was having a pulmonary embolism.

“I had to give birth via emergency c-section because there was concern that I could have a stillbirth. It was terrifying.

“I don’t know what the future holds for me and my baby; I’m still suffering from symptoms now along with the anxiety of not knowing how or when I’ll recover. I would urge pregnant women to get vaccinated because I don’t want anyone to experience what I went through.”

Tanviha, who works in anaesthesiology and research in Manchester, spent two months in hospital with Covid-19 following an emergency c-section, said: “I caught Covid-19 during my second pregnancy in February. At the time, the vaccine wasn’t available to me and I quickly took a turn for the worse. I was rushed into hospital and went straight into intensive care where my condition deteriorated and my son was delivered by emergency c-section.

“I was put to sleep and intubated, and my family were told it was unlikely I’d survive and to prepare for the worst. The day after I was intubated, the nurse told them they were going to switch the machine off, but instead I was transferred to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine, which is the last resort for patients with severe heart and lung failure, and it saved my life.

“The first time I saw my son he was two months old. It’s the scariest experience of mine and my family’s life but I’m just grateful that me and my son are alive. If you’re unsure about getting vaccinated please come forward and get your jab, not everyone’s as lucky as I am.”

Joanne, a makeup advisor from Lincolnshire suffered complications with her pregnancy after catching Covid-19, she said: “I had been unsure what was the right thing to do about getting vaccinated while pregnant. I was planning on having the jab after my daughter was born but I caught Covid-19 when I was 35 weeks pregnant and became seriously ill, I couldn’t get out of bed for a week.

“I had nearly recovered but something just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t feel my baby kicking so I made an urgent appointment to see my midwife. The team at the hospital quickly spotted the baby’s growth had dropped and her fluid was low.

“Her heartbeat was going down and down so the consultant rushed me off for an emergency caesarean when Mollie-Ann was born. I’m so grateful to the maternity team for keeping me and my baby safe and I just wish I’d been vaccinated sooner.”

Since April 2021, around 84,000 pregnant women have received one dose and over 80,000 have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Out of all women between the ages of 16 and 49 on ECMO – a form of life support for the sickest of patients – in intensive care, pregnant women make up almost a third (32 per cent) – up from just 6 per cent at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the statement added.

Professor Asma Khalil, spokesperson for Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “Our message is clear, Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy is safe, it is not linked to an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, and it’s the best way of protecting you and your baby from the virus. We are recommending all pregnant women have their Covid-19 vaccines, including their third dose booster vaccine when they are offered it.’’

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup, said: “Nearly 1 in 5 Covid-19 patients who are most critically ill are pregnant women who have not been vaccinated, which shows just how important it is that expectant mothers get the vaccine to keep themselves and their babies safe.

“The Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant women and I urge everyone to get their vaccines as soon as they can to secure this significant protection”.

Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, has said that having Covid-19 can double the chance of stillbirth and triples the chance of a preterm birth, which can have a long-term health impact on the baby.

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