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Utah doctors see more pregnant women hospitalized with COVID-19

Posted at 10:13 PM, Sep 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 00:13:47-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising pregnant women to take “urgent action” in getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC reports August saw the highest number of COVID-related deaths among pregnant women.

In Utah, doctors say they’re seeing more pregnant women hospitalized with COVID-19.

“We’ve seen stillbirths. We’ve seen neo-natal deaths. We’ve seen pre-term births,” said Dr. Sean Esplin with Intermountain Healthcare.

Esplin is a maternal-fetal physician who specializes in taking care of patients with high-risk pregnancies.

“What the CDC is describing are things that we’re seeing in our own practice,” he said. “And it makes complete sense that we should be more aggressive.”

The CDC states that as of Sept. 18, 31% of pregnant people were fully vaccinated before or during their pregnancy.

“When we look at our own numbers from July 1 through yesterday and look at people who are delivering in the Intermountain Healthcare system, we’re finding that about only 24% of them have had a complete course of vaccination. About 4% of them have had one dose,” said Esplin.

Grayson Bakes said she had to have an emergency c-section after she was hospitalized with COVID-19 back in August.

She said she tested positive at the end of July and was admitted into the hospital and put on a ventilator on Aug. 5.

“I don’t remember anything,” she said. “I remember waking up on the 18th and being like, ‘Why is there a tube stuck down my throat?’ And that’s when they told me I had a kid.”

While on a ventilator, doctors performed an emergency c-section and her son was born a month before his due date.

Bakes described waking up to the news as “extremely overwhelming.”

“You don’t realize just how sick you are until you’re there,” she said. “And the fact that they’re like, ‘Hey, you had a kid.’”

Bakes said she wasn’t vaccinated at the time but is now.

“If I could go back, I’d have gotten vaccinated in a heartbeat,” she said. “I’m extremely blessed that my kid is OK, that I’m OK, that everyone around me is OK.”

Dr. Leisha Nolen with the state health department said the best way to protect expecting mothers is by getting the vaccine.

“The data shows these women go through and have healthy babies. That there’s not any increase risk of miscarriage, there’s no health birth defects that they’re seeing,” she said.

The Utah Department of Health’s pregnancy risk line, MotherToBaby Utah, is encouraging any expecting mothers who are hesitant about the vaccine to give them a call. To reach a specialist, call 866-626-6847 or 801-328-2229.