B.C.'s provincial health officer pleads with pregnant women to get vaccinated
A number of unvaccinated pregnant women are battling COVID-19 in B.C. intensive care units, health officials revealed Tuesday while pushing for expectant mothers to get immunized.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has seen the impact first hand while visiting health-care facilities. She’s now pleading with pregnant women in B.C. to get vaccinated, for their health and the health of their unborn child.
"There are no increased risks of pregnancy complications or neonatal outcomes when you're vaccinated," Henry said. "But we do know there is an increased risk of severe illness requiring hospitalization or ICU care if you get COVID-19 while you're pregnant."
A total of 40 pregnant women have been treated for COVID-19 in B.C. ICUs since the start of the pandemic, she added, most in the last few months while vaccines were widely available.
Vancouver family physician Dr. Anna Wolak said she’s had pregnant patients in her practice express vaccine hesitancy because of misinformation they’d seen online. In reality, she said, catching COVID-19 is what puts expectant mothers at risk.
“Pregnant women (who catch COVID-19) are at a higher risk of complications both for themselves and for their babies, and it’s disheartening to say the least to know there is a lot of misinformation out there specifically targeting pregnant persons at this vulnerable time in their lives,” said Wolak.
The misinformation is also targeting couples who want to become pregnant. “I can say unequivocally these vaccines do not effect fertility in women or boys or young men,” said Henry. “They do not effect fertility, there’s no way they can do that. But that is one of the common lies that is out there right now designed to create fear.”
All data has pointed to the vaccines being safe and effective at all stages of pregnancy.
“There is no increased risk of complications after being immunized, to you or your baby,” said Henry. “There are no differences in miscarriage, preterm births, still births or birth defects, and international data supports this.”
Henry is urging pregnant women to speak to trusted medical professionals, which is exactly what Vancouverite Rupinder Pilkington did when the vaccine became available for expectant moms during the second trimester of her pregnancy.
“For me it was really important for my own health my family’s health, and most important for my unborn child’s health, to really make sure I did all my research,” said Pilkington who spoke to doctors, nurses, midwives and doulas. They all advised her to get vaccinated,
“I took that to heart more than I did the other noise that was out there,” said Pilkington who is now fully vaccinated at 38 weeks pregnant.
Dr. Wolak has also found she can convince hesitant pregnant patients to get vaccinated by presenting them with all the data. “By and large after I’ve had conversations with my patients and my friends as well and family members, people will go out and get the vaccination.”
Pilkington has remained healthy and COVID-free during her pregnancy, and believes her decision to get vaccinated will help her unborn child.
“Now thankfully and hopefully my baby will have the antibodies to COVID and we can both proceed forward with the health and safety of both of us in mind,” said Pilkington.