Vancouver doctor stresses importance of pregnant people getting COVID vaccine


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A doctor at B.C. Women’s Hospital and Health Centre is hoping to quash the concerns of those who are pregnant and trying to figure out whether they should get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Chelsea Elwood, a reproductive infectious disease specialist, said since the B.C. Health Ministry’s announcement Tuesday about scheduling an appointment if you are pregnant, there have been questions circulating about the positives and negatives of getting a shot.

She understands every person is different, the first thing you should do is reach out to your doctor if you have any concerns.

“Certainly speaking to your maternity care provider is a really important step if you feel like you’re not sure, because maternity care providers are very experienced in talking through the pros and cons of vaccinations. Here’s what we do know about COVID-19 and pregnancy: for pregnant persons with COVID-19, you are at increased risk of being hospitalized [with the virus], as well as admitted to the intensive care unit.”

She said the risk of delivering earlier or having a pre-term birth is much higher if you are infected with the virus.

“Those risks are very well established, and so that’s why we actually recommend any of the vaccines at any time in pregnancy, and as well as with breastfeeding, because the best way to prevent you from getting COVID-19 is a vaccine,” Elwood said.

According to Elwood, the province took the time to offer the vaccine to those who are pregnant, as they wanted to make sure they had enough B.C.-based data to make a decision. The data included pregnant patients who were tracked for more than a year, and from a little more than 800 people who had the virus.

The rate of hospitalization admission was about 4.8 per cent, and the rate of admission to the intensive care unit was about two per cent of those patients.

“We have been looking at pregnant persons with COVID-19 throughout the country, and we actually run a national surveillance database here, and we looked at our B.C. data and said, ‘How likely are you to be admitted to hospital, and how likely are you to be admitted to the intensive care unit if you are pregnant and get COVID-19?’ When we looked at that risk, then put it against the population in general, what we saw is it matched between being the age of 55 and 59.”

While Elwood says they’re still working on getting line data or individualized data from some of the other provinces, she says they were confident enough to make the offering.

As for what to expect if you are pregnant and choosing to get the shot, Elwood says the process is similar to what most other people will experience.

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“From the data that we’ve seen – for those patients who are vaccinated throughout the world who are pregnant, which is close to 100,000 patients that we know of – reactions to the vaccine are largely no different than if you were not pregnant.”

If you need to register for a vaccine and are pregnant, you can find all the details here.

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