There are a number of young pregnant women battling COVID-19 in intensive care units across B.C., all of them unvaccinated, according to health officials.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry highlighted those cases Tuesday while addressing vaccine hesitancy among some expecting mothers who fear that getting immunized against COVID-19 could have some kind of adverse effect on their pregnancy.
Henry stressed that the real risk, backed up Canadian and international data, is catching the disease while unimmunized, which is associated with “higher rates of adverse infant outcomes – things like stillbirths and pre-term births.”
“There are no increased risks of pregnancy complications or neonatal outcomes when you’re vaccinated,” the provincial health officer 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.”
She did not provide an exact number of how many pregnant people are currently in ICUs in the province.
Henry noted that the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada supports vaccination for pregnant women, as does the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.
“All of the vaccines that are approved for use in Canada are not only safe, but are recommended for people who are pregnant, people who are thinking of getting pregnant, and people who are breastfeeding,” Henry said.
Some hesitant mothers-to-be have expressed concerns that the vaccines’ clinical trials did not include pregnant people. But Henry said tens of thousands of expecting mothers have since received the vaccine in North America alone, contributing to a much broader understanding of the impacts it has on pregnancy.
She pointed to research being led by Dr. Deborah Money, a professor in UBC’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, that reassuringly found “there is no increased risk of complications after being immunized, to you or your baby.”
“There are no differences in miscarriage, pre-term births, stillbirths or birth defects, and international data supports this as well,” Henry said.
The data from Money’s research hasn’t come out yet, Henry noted, but is expected to be published soon.
More information on getting vaccinated while pregnant, and the risks associated with catching COVID-19 while expecting a child, are available on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website.