COVID-19: Pregnant women in B.C. now prioritized for vaccine
Pregnant women are now being prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine, B.C. announced today.
The move follows Ontario and Quebec, which have moved pregnant women up the vaccine priority list as a result of increased risk of severe illness linked to COVID-19.
“All Health Canada-approved vaccines are safe and effective, and I encourage everyone to register and receive their vaccine as soon as they are eligible. Today, this includes people who are pregnant,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a statement Tuesday.
Pregnant people over the age of 16 can register at gov.bc.ca/getvaccinated and phone 1-833-838-2323, identifying as being pregnant. Online booking for pregnant people is not available.
Asked when pregnant women would be prioritized, Henry said on Monday that the province’s public-health team and B.C. Immunization Committee were working with perinatal teams to review data on the risks of COVID-19 to pregnant women. Henry confirmed the risks are “slightly elevated” but said there have been “very small numbers of pregnant woman” who ended up in hospital or in the intensive care unit.
The Ministry of Health has not provided data on how many pregnant women have ended up in hospital in B.C.
“We want to make sure that the system is able to support people who are pregnant to … receive the vaccines as efficiently as possible,” Henry said Monday.
She said research by the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists and a study out of the U.S. has shown that vaccines are safe for women in all stages of pregnancy. She also said there’s evidence that breast-feeding mothers would benefit from the vaccine as the antibodies transfer to the infant to provide protection.
Pregnant women are more likely to become severely ill from COVID and need to be hospitalized and, to a lesser extent, end up in intensive care compared to women in the general population, according to a year-long national study by Dr. Deborah Money, a UBC obstetrics and gynaecology professor, and scientist at the Women’s Health Research Institute.
The report shows the number of COVID-positive pregnancies Canada-wide went up by 44 per cent this year compared to last year, rising to 4,064 on March 26 from 2,824 on Dec. 31.
“We are fortunate to have had the ability to track data across Canada to better understand the real impact of COVID-19 in pregnancy,” Money said Tuesday in a statement. “My hope is that knowing vaccines are safe and effective at any point in pregnancy will encourage those who are currently pregnant to take the opportunity to get vaccinated.”
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