University hospitals are concerned about an increase in the number of pregnant women becoming seriously ill with the delta variant of the coronavirus, reports the Volkskrant. This week, at least five pregnant women with corona were admitted to ICUs. This is the highest number since the beginning of the crisis. In all cases, the women were not vaccinated.
The CDC – the U.S. equivalent of RIVM – this week urged pregnant women to get vaccinated. There, only 23% of pregnant women have been vaccinated. Vaccines are safe and effective, the organization concluded based on new figures. For example, the rate of miscarriages among vaccinated women is comparable to that of unvaccinated women. “It is more urgent than ever to vaccinate now that the highly infectious delta variant is having serious consequences for unvaccinated pregnant women,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.
Also in the Netherlands, figures show that pregnant women are at increased risk of serious coronary events due to the delta variant. Since the start of the corona crisis, 574 pregnant women with corona have been admitted to hospital, according to figures from Nethoss (Netherlands Obstetric Surveillance System). Of these, 66 women ended up in the ICU and 55 in the obstetric intensive care unit, a special unit for pregnant women with severe complications. Of the five pregnant women admitted to the ICU at Erasmus MC this week, two are currently lying face down on ventilators.
Urgent advice to pregnant women to get vaccinated.
It is estimated that less than half of pregnant women in the Netherlands are vaccinated. The exact number is not known because the RIVM and the Municipal Health Services do not record these figures. The Lareb Side Effects Center appealed to pregnant women to come forward. So far, some 5,800 women have responded to this appeal, half of whom have been vaccinated at least once. So far, no special side effects have been reported. According to gynecologists, the low willingness to vaccinate among pregnant women is possibly due to the hesitant advice they gave at the beginning of the vaccination campaign. Although the vaccines were soon found to be safe, the doubts of many women were not dispelled.
Hans Duvekot is a gynecologist at the Erasmus MC in Rotterdam and chairman of the Covid-19 & Pregnancy working group that, together with the RIVM, studies the corona policy for pregnant women. “Initially, it did not seem that healthy pregnant woman had a higher risk of more severe corona than women who are not pregnant. But now that has changed. Now that we are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of admissions to the ICU, we are strongly advising pregnant women to get vaccinated.” she says in the Volkskrant. This is because the delta variant of the virus appears to be more harmful to pregnant women than previous variants.
According to Duvekot, whether or not pregnant women get vaccinated should remain a free choice. But he hopes that Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will also direct his call for vaccination to pregnant women. RIVM’s current position is that pregnant women would do well to get vaccinated. The organization may soon come up with a stricter recommendation.