British Columbia·Video

Pregnant, breastfeeding women in B.C. encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19

B.C.'s top doctor is encouraging people who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

40 pregnant people have been hospitalized with COVID-19, provincial officials say

A pregnant woman receives a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination campaign in Asuncion, Paraguay on June 19. British Columbia's top doctor is encouraging people who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (Jorge Saenz/The Associated Press)

British Columbia's top doctor is encouraging people who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says 40 pregnant women have received intensive care in the province in the last few months and while that group of people wasn't included in clinical trials, real-life evidence shows vaccination prevents severe illness and hospitalization.

"In other words, it is highly recommended that people who are pregnant get their vaccine," she said during a news conference Tuesday.

Henry said she also wants to ensure health-care workers who are in their child-bearing years get vaccinated to protect themselves, their colleagues and others who may be exposed to the virus.

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B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is encouraging people who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 0:58

She said there's no increased risk of complications for immunized pregnant women or to their babies, and international data show no difference in the rates of miscarriage, early birth, stillbirth or other adverse effects.

Henry said the delta variant has shown unvaccinated pregnant women experience higher rates of stillbirth and pre-term birth, leading to their priority vaccination in many provinces.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, as well as a national vaccine advisory panel, have recommended vaccines for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Midwives battling misinformation

Colleen Fulton, a midwife based in North Vancouver, says people working in her profession are fielding questions constantly from vaccine hesitant people who are pregnant.

Fulton said constantly changing information and advice during the pandemic has contributed to this hesitancy.

For example, she said, experts first came out saying pregnant people face no greater health risk then others should they get the virus and then data later showed this demographic is actually more likely to suffer worse outcomes from COVID-19.

Midwives, she said, are also battling an onslaught of misinformation being shared on social media and in social circles that "travels as fast as the the true information".

Fulton said in her experience, some people who are pregnant are less hesitant after their baby is born and will go get a shot postpartum.

"I find that there is more uptake for the hesitant group after the fact," Fulton told CBC's On The Island Wednesday.

Gregor Craigie spoke with midwife Colleen Fulton about vaccines and pregnancy. 8:05

With files from On The Island

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