/As more babies are hospitalized with COVID, these moms are grateful for the vaccine

As more babies are hospitalized with COVID, these moms are grateful for the vaccine

She thought that waiting until her son was born would protect him from any potential risks in utero. Also, antibodies could still be passed through breast milk even after she has been vaccinated. Zanza’s attitude was changed when the delta virus swept through Mississippi last summer. The hospitals and intensive care units overflowed with patients. Some of them were pregnant, died, or lost their babies. Zanza was close friends with one of these mothers. Zanza stated, “It was really eye-opening that this perfectly healthy mother and baby were gone due to it.” Zanza visited her doctor who explained the science behind the vaccine. Her doctor explained to Zanza that the vaccine would only reach her baby via the placenta and not any vaccine material. Zanza was also encouraged to get vaccinated by her brother, a physician and father of small children. She received her first shot at 37 weeks of pregnancy. Zanza’s hand was glued to Zanza’s stomach for the first 24 hours. Zanza stated that she was afraid she had made a mistake and that something would happen. Drew, Zanza’s baby boy, was finally born healthy and happy a few weeks later. Drew, five months, and Zanza were both infected with the Omicron variant. Both were able to recover quickly from mild cases. Zanza stated, “I believe it’s because he had the vaccine and had some immunity.” Zanza also remembered how it went for her close friend who was against vaccines. This is one of those points of disagreement they avoided discussing. Zanza did not tell Drew that she had been vaccinated until several weeks after Drew was born. The friend was also hospitalized for several weeks after she contracted COVID-19. Zanza’s situation is similar to many Mississippi women who have been there over the past year. They had to choose between risking contracting the coronavirus, potentially becoming severely ill during pregnancy, or getting a new vaccine they did not know about. Although there was no exclusion to vaccine misinformation being spread, it seems that pregnant women were the most targeted. “The vaccine causes infertility.” The vaccine will cause you to miscarry.” These false claims spread quickly online and among friends groups as the vaccine was being rolled out across the United States. Lauren Rhoades, a Jackson resident, was vaccinated in March 2021. She gave birth in July. She credits Facebook for helping her to avoid misinformation about the vaccine. Rhoades was on maternity leave and watched with horror as the delta virus swept through Mississippi, causing a surge in hospitalizations and pregnancies. The virus has killed 13 women and caused at least 73 fetal deaths since it reached Mississippi in March 2020. Rhoades stated that she imagined them wanting to do the best for their child and had received misinformation that made it fearful about getting vaccinated. “It made me so sad to see such preventable loss.” Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended vaccination for pregnant women in April, that message had to contend with the misinformation and doubt that had built up over the first months of the vaccine’s availability. Katie Poor, who gave birth in December 2021 to her second child, stated that she felt that the delay gave people a lot more reason to worry about it. Poor was unable to follow unclear instructions and navigate the uncertainty. Poor, who lives near Jackson, stated that there are many things you should be careful about due to the possible adverse effects it may have on your unborn baby. Poor was vaccinated this spring after consulting her doctor to ensure that there weren’t any complications for pregnant women. Poor is now grateful to be able to pass her antibodies on to her daughter, who is two months old, and offer her protection until she can get vaccinated. Poor stated that breastfeeding her newborn gives her a sense of security. “There are many ways I don’t feel like I can protect her well enough,” she said. After a year of sickness, death, and research, it is now clear that COVID-19 presents a risk to infants and pregnant women. A recent study co-authored and supervised by Dr. Charlotte Hobbs (a pediatrician at the University of Mississippi Medicine Center) found that children account for a large proportion of minors who are hospitalized because of COVID-19. Between March 2020 and December 2020, the study identified 630 patients between 0 and 18 years old with severe COVID-19 at 50 of their hospitals, including Children’s of Mississippi. One-third of the patients were younger than one year, while half were less than two months. A second concern is the fact that nearly two-thirds were not suffering from any serious medical conditions before their COVID-19 diagnosis. However, they still had difficulty overcoming their infections. Seventy-seven per cent had respiratory problems, while 13 percent required a ventilator. Hobbs stated that it is well-established that mother vaccination protects baby. Infant COVID-19 can be very severe so this highlights the importance of maternal immunization. Hobbs claims that misinformation persists despite the abundance of data supporting the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Hobbs stated that “millions of people” had been vaccinated at this time. However, Hobbs says that providers still claim there isn’t enough data. “I believe that we must educate our providers so we can educate the population. “I believe people trust their doctors. But if they don’t have all the information, the patients won’t either.” Dr. Anita Henderson is the President of The Mississippi Chapter of The American Academy of Pediatrics. She is a pediatrician at The Pediatric Clinic Hattiesburg and has seen more children hospitalized in the omicron wave that any other stage of this pandemic. One theory suggests that omicron has a greater impact on the upper airways than other variants. Henderson stated that if a baby has a small airway it can lead to more serious illnesses. Other disturbing trends she has seen include one- and two-month olds with COVID-induced sleeping apnea, and an increase in intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) babies. A COVID-19 infection can cause a condition where a baby’s weight doesn’t rise to normal during pregnancy. This can lead to clotting of the placenta which may restrict the foetus’ ability to eat and slow down its growth. It can be hard to have the vaccine conversation with patients, Henderson stated. However, it has become a lot easier as mothers have experienced the benefits of vaccination in their own lives and are now able to see the dangers that their child’s absence presents. Henderson stated that they are just conversations we must have every chance to educate mothers and explain why vaccinations are the best for their children and themselves. Editor’s Note: Dr. Anita Henderson has updated the final quote in this story to make it more clear.