British Columbia

B.C. should make pregnant women a priority for COVID-19 vaccine, says expectant mother

A woman in Maple Ridge who is expecting her first child says health officials ought to follow Ontario's lead and prioritize pregnant women for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Specialists say pregnant women more likely to develop complications if they contract the virus

First-time mom Danica Miscisco says the province should prioritize pregnant women like her because they're at higher risk of complications from COVID-19. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

A woman in Maple Ridge, B.C., who is expecting her first child says provincial health officials ought to follow Ontario's lead and prioritize pregnant women for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Danica Miscisco, a first-time mother in her third trimester, says she would rather be worrying about what colour to paint her child's nursery than getting COVID-19.

"My biggest priority right now is to keep my baby safe," Miscisco said.

It's a fear validated by several doctors and obstetricians, like Dr. Kathleen Ross, a family physician practising obstetrics at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C. 

Ross echoes the opinion of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, which says pregnant women with COVID-19 are more likely to develop respiratory complications and end up in ICU than their non-pregnant peers. 

"I would encourage all pregnant women to be extra careful at this time with the increased [COVID case] numbers," Ross said.

'Protect 2 people with 1 vaccine'

Ontario has bumped pregnant women to the front of the line, but in B.C. the province says it's sticking with it's age-based vaccine rollout that includes prioritization for some at-risk groups. 

Health officials say they will add more priority groups like pregnant women if the province gets more vaccines. 

But doctors like Ross question why pregnant women haven't already been added to the priority list.

"There's only one population where you'll protect two people with one vaccine," she said.

'The risks are there'

For pregnant women like Miscisco, the province's decision to leave them is equally perplexing. 

"I don't understand. There's no reason for us to not be prioritized," she said. "The risks are there. If I get COVID, there's a high chance I'll be in the ICU, that's one more bed."

Ross says some women are hesitant to get the vaccine because of concerns about its effects on their unborn child. 

But even though pregnant women were initially excluded from clinical trials, the Canadian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization have said the vaccine is considered safe for them.

With files from Zahra Premji

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