An unvaccinated, pregnant woman who was hospitalized with COVID-19 and had to have her baby delivered early after becoming severely ill has urged other mothers-to-be to get the shot if they have not done so already.
Anniree Muir, 23, from Bradford in northern England, was reluctant to get vaccinated because of her pregnancy.
“I am not an anti-vaxxer but I was reluctant to have my jab because I was pregnant and I felt nervous about the effect it might have on the baby,” Muir told Yorkshire Live. “The vaccine seemed so new and it played on my mind whether it would be safe or not.”
But Muir said she was “shocked” by how quickly she became ill after she contracted the virus and that she regretted not getting her shot when it was offered to her initially.
“My husband got his jabs when offered and we were both so careful during the pandemic, barely venturing out so I was shocked when I got COVID and shocked at how ill I became,” she said.
“If I could go back in time, I would have said yes to the vaccine. I am going to get it now as soon as I can.”
Muir’s initial symptoms after being diagnosed with COVID in September this year were mild. But her condition quickly worsened and she began experiencing breathing difficulties. Nine days after testing positive—when she was just under 30 weeks pregnant—she was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
By the end of the month, doctors took the decision to deliver her unborn son by emergency cesarean section, citing health concerns.
“My lungs were full of COVID and not inflating properly and the baby was putting extra pressure on my lungs so they told me the safest thing was for my baby to be delivered as soon as possible,” Muir said.
“When they told me that he would have to be delivered so early, I was absolutely petrified.”
The baby, named Jahleel, was delivered safely but weighed just three pounds at birth. He was taken to the hospital’s neonatal unit where staff spent six weeks caring for him. Staff tested the child for COVID-19 but he turned out to be negative.
“Fortunately, he was negative but I was still unable to hold him,” said Muir. “I was only able to see pictures of him and it was nine days before I could hold him and give him a cuddle.”
Both Muir and her newborn son were eventually released from the hospital and are now doing well at home. But the 23-year-old said she wanted to send a message to expectant mothers who haven’t been vaccinated.
“I would now say to anyone who is pregnant and who is nervous about the jab, talk to a health professional, talk to your midwife and get their advice because they will be able to reassure you. But please get the vaccine because I wouldn’t wish what I have been through on anyone.
“I have been very lucky. My baby was 33 weeks and he survived and is now doing really well. He has put on weight. But you could get COVID when your baby is much younger and then they may not survive. The risk is just not worth it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) pregnant women and those who have recently had a baby are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people. This is because pregnancy causes changes in the body that can reduce the mother’s ability to fight off respiratory infections.
The CDC has said vaccination can protect you from severe COVID-19 illness and is recommended for all people aged 12 years and older, including “people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.”
The currently available evidence indicates that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy, according to the CDC.
There is no evidence to suggest that any COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems in men or women, the agency said.
When pregnant mothers become infected with COVID-19, this can also cause harm to the unborn baby, one of the doctors who cared for Jahleel Muir, told Yorkshire Live.
“In Bradford, COVID is doing harm to the health of babies because Bradford’s pregnant women haven’t taken up the COVID vaccination in high enough numbers,” Sam Oddie, a consultant neonatologist at the Bradford Royal Infirmary’s Neonatal Unit said.
“While some well-informed women have had the vaccine, too many have been put off by inaccurate information from social media. When pregnant women get very ill, their babies often have to be delivered early, which adds risk and disruption to the care of the baby at a time when women are receiving intensive treatment that is already quite distressing enough.
“I urge women who are pregnant, or are considering pregnancy, to get the COVID vaccine as soon as they can,” said Oddie.
Stock image showing a pregnant woman in hospital. An unvaccinated, pregnant woman from England, was hospitalized with COVID-19 and had to have her baby delivered early after becoming severely ill.