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Doctor warns of COVID-19 pregnancy risks, stresses safety of vaccine

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 8:04 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -You’ve heard the term high-risk a lot throughout the pandemic. One group you may not consider — pregnant women. And doctors are working to spread the word that the vaccine is particularly important for those expectant mothers, and they shouldn’t delay getting the shots.

“I’m a mom of three,” said Holly Sackler of Hattiesburg. “And I have one on the way.”

Holly Sackler will be 28 weeks pregnant this week. She wasn’t convinced she should take the vaccine, even after an urging from her doctor.

But right after that visit, she noticed Facebook posts about two other pregnant women in her community, within her circle of friends, both with a COVID diagnosis and hospitalized.

“One was critical, who unfortunately did not make it. The other one is still there,” explained Sackler. “As soon as I saw those posts, I logged on to cvs.com and went ahead and just scheduled the first dose. Because I just felt like those were signs of clarity for me that I was meant to see that when I hadn’t seen anything remotely close to that, as far as somebody close to me in our area, that it’s affected. That was healthy. And young.”

Sackler still doesn’t want to tell anyone else what to do but says she’s hoping her choice will protect both not only her but baby boy.

Maternal and fetal medicine specialist Dr. Rachel Morris at UMMC has seen first-hand how serious COVID and pregnancy can be.

“It has been horrendous,” described Dr. Morris. “It has been worse than I could have ever imagined to see mothers with no risk factors other than being pregnant come to the hospital to be ventilated for a prolonged period of time, pass away or lose their pregnancy. It’s totally preventable at this point.”

Morris points to CDC research that shows pregnant women have not only increased risks of hospital admissions and the need for life support but a 70% increased risk of dying. We asked if that’s in line with what she’s seen.

“I wish, I wish I could tell you no,” Morris said. “Because that would mean that we haven’t lost mothers here; that we haven’t seen mothers on a ventilator fighting for their lives and fighting for their babies. It would mean that my team hasn’t been at the bedsides for months fighting with these women trying to help do everything we can.”

Dr. Morris adds that research shows the COVID vaccine protects not only the mother but the baby. She stresses that it doesn’t give COVID or the vaccine to the baby but allows for some of those antibodies to be passed along to them. The same is true for breastfeeding mothers. But she does not recommend pregnant women waiting till after delivery for the shots.

For more information from Morris and the UMMC, click HERE.

CDC information on pregnancy and COVID can be found HERE.

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