Dr. Akila Subramaniam, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at the University of Alabama Birmingham Hospital, said she has never seen anything like what’s she has seen recently with pregnant women in the ICU because of COVID-19.
Subramaniam told The Daily Beast that her hospital admitted more than 39 pregnant women with COVID-19 in the last month. In all, 10 of those women were sent to the intensive care unit and seven were put on ventilators. In normal weeks, there are one or two women in the ICU.
Subramaniam told The Daily Beast that all of the pregnant women in the ICU are unvaccinated. So she recommends all pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine to avoid such a terrifying reality.
But she recently told The Daily Beast that the COVID-19 surge has made it harder to treat all pregnant women, as the women often have to make decisions that require full communication.
“It’s really hard to talk to a patient who’s on high flow, nasal cannula, struggling to breathe and ask them, ‘Well, what do you want us to do when they put this tube down your throat? Do you want us to do a C-section to potentially save your baby? That may end up harming you, you might die. … Do we focus on you? Do we focus on the baby?’” she asked.
“Oftentimes these women are intubated. So we’re getting consent either before they have had the tube put in their throat, or from a partner, or we’re doing it emergently with two physicians. I can’t imagine how scary it must be to all of a sudden wake up and know that you had a baby and you had no understanding of what that was like. It sounds terrifying, but that’s what is happening.”
’’The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
The CDC made the announcement because hospitals are seeing a surge of unvaccinated pregnant women who are becoming severely ill with the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Pregnant women, in general, often have a higher risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, as seen throughout the pandemic, per The Associated Press. Serious complications include stillbirths and miscarriages.
And the vaccine doesn’t appear to cause any major issues. Data from the CDC show that 2,500 women did not have any increased risk of miscarriages after they received a single dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines by the 20-week mark of their pregnancy, according to The Associated Press.
“When pregnant women who are not vaccinated get COVID-19, they get into serious difficulty,” Fauci said. “There’s no question that recommendation had to switch from ‘could’ to ‘should.’”