Doctors want pregnant people added to B.C.'s COVID-19 vaccine priority list
VANCOUVER -- Concerns about COVID-19 potentially leading to serious illness in pregnant people has triggered a nation-wide call from leading doctors to put those who are expecting on the priority list for vaccines.
In B.C., many of those who are pregnant are still waiting for their turn, and officials have made no moves to bump their vaccine dates up.
Twenty-three year-old Danica Miscisco is expecting her first child in July. Being pregnant in the pandemic has come with a special set of concerns, she said.
“Overall, pretty stressful time,” she said. “Not getting sick is my biggest thing right now.”
Miscisco said she’s hoping the province will listen to a recent call from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and prioritize vaccines for those who are pregnant.
“It would be awesome...to be able to relax and not be stressed out,” she said. “And other pregnant women who are still having to go to work, that’s who I’m thinking of, too.”
On April 15, the society called on all provinces to “immediately prioritize women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant for COVID-19 vaccination.” The group said pregnant women who have the virus appear more likely to develop respiratory complications and require intensive care, and that they are more likely to have a premature delivery and have their babies admitted to a neonatal unit.
“There is currently a daily wave of pregnant women coming into Ontario ICUs, many requiring ventilators. These women are getting extremely sick, very quickly,” the society said in a statement. “All pregnant women in Canada should be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Primary care obstetrician Dr. Kathleen Ross says she believes it’s a critical time for B.C. due to the rise of variants, and there’s a need to protect those who are vulnerable.
“I would absolutely encourage the province to add pregnant women to the priority list,” she said. “There are multiple competing priority populations, I understand that, but protecting pregnant women with the vaccine protects both herself and the unborn child. This is a dual benefit.”
In a statement, B.C.’s ministry of health says it encourages pregnant women who are eligible to get a vaccine to do so, and that it will add more priority groups as the rollout continues and as more vaccine supply arrives.
“As is the case with every decision made by public health officials during the pandemic, decisions around the use and deployment of vaccines in B.C. will be based on the best available science and evidence,” the ministry said.
“Our immunization program is targeted to immunize those who are at the highest risk of COVID-19. That’s why we’re focusing our efforts on our age-based program, offering Astra Zeneca to people 40+ through our pharmacy roll out, our CEV (clinically extremely vulnerable) priority groups and outbreak management.”
Miscisco is off work right now and said her family is following every precaution. But for her, getting vaccinated would make a big difference.
“Just to be able to relax, and just worry about the things that you would worry about during a pregnancy, and not have to be worried about getting sick when I’m a relatively healthy person,” she said.
“I’m just hoping that the health officials of B.C. are able to respond to this call out to them, just knowing that pregnant peoples’ voices are being heard, ‘cause we matter too.”