When 32-year-old Marysville resident Sydney Jowett went to the hospital for a COVID-19 infection, her greatest fear was dying and leaving behind her children.
“I’m just thankful to be alive because all of the nurses and doctors there didn’t think I was going to be able to make it,” Jowett said.
After nine days of being terribly sick with COVID-19, Jowett made the decision to go to the hospital. She was diagnosed with COVID-pneumonia. She was also 35 weeks pregnant.
“It’s really scary. COVID is really, really scary,” Jowett said. “I didn’t ever think that I would get that sick and I never thought it would come this close to home.”
Doctors performed an emergency cesarean section to protect her health. After her daughter was born, Jowett’s condition rapidly improved.
Jowett was not vaccinated against COVID-19. Unsure of how it might affect her pregnancy, Jowett said she was planning to get the vaccine after she gave birth.
“Looking back on it now, I would have chosen to gotten vaccinated to avoid everything that I went through,” she said.
Pregnancy and the COVID-19 vaccine
Jon Lensmeyer, medical doctor and incoming chief of staff at McLaren Port Huron, said the vaccine is safe and effective for pregnant people. There is no data that the vaccine is detrimental to the health of the mother or the child.
Lensmeyer said the vaccine greatly reduces the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19. No vaccine 100% effective, so even if a vaccinated person were to get COVID-19, that person would be at reduced risk of serious illness or death.
Lensmeyer said the vaccine is especially important for pregnant people because pregnancy is considered an immunocompromised state. Pregnant people are more likely to experience serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19 than a non-pregnant person, he said.
Lensmeyer said there is data to suggest a pregnant person who contracts COVID-19 can pass it to their fetus, however, it is unclear what effect this could have on the fetus.
Pregnant people who contract COVID-19 are also at an increased risk of pre-term birth and might be at an increased risk for other adverse birth outcomes, St. Clair County Health Department Public Information Officer Alyse Nichols said.
A new U.S. Centers for Disease Control report found a greater prevalence of stillbirths among people who contracted COVID-19 while pregnant, with the risk becoming greater after the Delta variant developed.
The study examined 1.2 million deliveries nationwide from March 2020 through September 2021. Among those who had contracted COVID-19, the risk of stillbirth was 1 in 80, compared to 1 in 155 among those who were not infected.
Lensmeyer said many people refuse the vaccine because they say the vaccine is too new to be sure of its safety. He said that is not true because while the actual vaccine for COVID-19 is new, research on coronaviruses and mRNA technology, the technology on which the vaccine is based, has actually been around for many years.
“There is no scientific reason not to (get vaccinated). . . . Science has shown that this vaccination is not only safe but also successful and has no bearing on clinical outcomes as regard to pregnancy, it just doesn’t affect pregnant women in a bad way,” he said.
To schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, visit stclaircounty.org/offices/health/COVID-19_Vaccine.aspx.
Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or email@example.com.