Mum who had Covid-19 urges pregnant women to get vaccinated
An unvaccinated woman who contracted Covid-19 late in her pregnancy is urging others who are pregnant to get vaccinated, after she had to give birth in an isolation ward.
When Ms Vanessa Rickard, 36, became pregnant last December, Singapore's national vaccination programme had just begun. Not much was known about the effects of Covid-19 vaccines on pregnant women and their foetuses then.
When pregnant women could finally register for Covid-19 vaccination from June 4, Ms Rickard, a Filipino employment pass holder who works in the banking sector, decided to wait it out for a few more months.
"I was weighing the risks involved and decided maybe I would just wait until I gave birth and then get the vaccination after that, because I wasn't sure what the effect would be on my baby," she said yesterday.
She would come to regret that decision. Despite taking precautions, she caught Covid-19 and had symptoms early last month.
The rest of her household - her fully vaccinated husband Carlos Cruz, 33, their 2½-year-old son and their domestic helper - tested positive as well.
By then, Ms Rickard was 37 weeks into her pregnancy; a typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. She was admitted to an isolation ward at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where she gave birth about a week later.
The setting meant her care team needed to bring specialised equipment to her ward, including a cardiotocography machine to monitor contractions and foetal heart rate. They also ran a simulation exercise to familiarise themselves with additional procedures to prevent Covid-19 transmission during the delivery.
Dr Tan Wei Ching, a senior consultant at SGH's obstetrics and gynaecology department, said the hospital has started seeing a steady stream of pregnant patients with Covid-19 in the past month. Such cases rose from none in July to more than 10 cases since the beginning of last month, likely driven by the more infectious Delta variant.
Like Ms Rickard, many of these patients were not vaccinated as they may have had concerns about the possibility of vaccine-induced foetal abnormalities, Dr Tan said. But she noted studies have shown the vaccines to be safe for patients at any stage of pregnancy.
"We encourage our patients to consider having a vaccination, even just one dose. Some protection is better than none," she said. "In fact, not getting vaccinated carries an even higher risk for these patients, especially in the later part of pregnancy, because they're at higher risk of severe disease and getting admitted to intensive care."