‘Extremely fortunate in Ireland that no pregnant women have died of Covid’ – head of HSE women’s programme issues stark warning

A senior doctor has said the country is very lucky that no pregnant women have died from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

he head of the HSE’s National Women and Infants Health Programme, Dr Peter McKenna, said the dangers which the virus presents to pregnant women are clear, as more than 30 expectant mothers have died from Covid-19 in England to date.

He confirmed 15 pregnant women with Covid-19 have been admitted to ICU in acute hospitals across Ireland since the start of September.

According to Dr McKenna, none of these patients were fully vaccinated and two were partially vaccinated.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, he said a recent survey of 750 new mothers and expectant mothers, across 19 hospitals, found that 58pc were fully vaccinated and 74pc of their partners were also fully vaccinated.

Dr McKenna said the 58pc figure is “gratifying” because it is coming from a very “low base”.

“I think that we may now have reached a tipping point where the message is absolutely clear and unequivocal, that all pregnant women, for their safety and the safety of their baby, should be vaccinated,” he said.

Dr McKenna said the advice on vaccinations for pregnant women has evolved since the start of the vaccine roll-out but added that there is now no doubt and pregnant women should get the inoculation.

He said the vaccine has been administered to “hundreds of thousands” of pregnant women throughout the world and there “has been no pattern noted of any adverse outcomes”.

According to Dr McKenna, it has been proven that pregnant women are at a “particular risk” from Covid-19.

“We have been extremely fortunate in Ireland that no pregnant women have died of Covid to date. This contrasts to England where in excess of 30 pregnant women have died from Covid since the start of the pandemic.”

“It can be a very serious illness if you get it when you’re pregnant,” he added.

Dr McKenna said the virus is highly dangerous during the last three months of pregnancy, when breathing is naturally more difficult because of the size of the uterus.

He added that the lungs are “particularly liable to be injured during pregnancy”.

Some 20pc of all patients who needed the most severe form of lung treatment in UK hospitals were pregnant women, Dr McKenna said.

“To arrive at that figure is a very clear indication that if you’re pregnant and if you get Covid, you can become extremely unwell,” he added.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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