When 32-year-old Marysville resident Sydney Jowett went to the hospital for a COVID-19 infection, her biggest fear was dying and leaving her children behind.
“I’m just thankful I’m still alive because all the nurses and doctors out there didn’t think I would make it,” Jowett said.
After being terribly ill with COVID-19 for nine days, 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 scary,” said Jowett. “I never thought I’d get this sick and I never thought it would get this close to home.”
Doctors performed an emergency cesarean section to protect her health. After her daughter was born, Jowett’s condition quickly improved.
Jowett has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. Not sure how it might affect her pregnancy, Jowett said she planned to get the vaccine after she gave birth.
“Looking back now, I would have chosen to get vaccinated to avoid everything I’ve been through,” she said.
Pregnancy and the COVID-19 Vaccine
Jon Lensmeyer, physician 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 harmful to the health of the mother or child.
Lensmeyer said the vaccine significantly reduces the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19. No vaccine is 100% effective, so even if a vaccinated person got COVID-19, that person would be at less risk of serious illness or death.
Lensmeyer said the vaccine is especially important for pregnant people because pregnancy is considered an immunocompromised condition. Pregnant people are more likely to suffer serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19 than a non-pregnant person, he said.
Lensmeyer said there is data suggesting that a pregnant person who catches COVID-19 can pass it on to their fetus, but it’s unclear what effect this could have on the fetus.
Pregnant people who contract COVID-19 are also at increased risk for preterm birth and may be at increased risk for other adverse birth outcomes, said Alyse Nichols, public information officer for the St. Clair County Health Department.
A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control found a greater prevalence of stillbirths in people who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy, with the risk increasing after the Delta variant developed.
The study examined 1.2 million deliveries across the country from March 2020 to September 2021. Among those who 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’s not true, because while the actual vaccine for COVID-19 is new, research into coronaviruses and mRNA technology, the technology on which the vaccine is based, has been around for years.
“There is no scientific reason not to get (vaccinated) …. Science has shown that this vaccination is not only safe, but also successful and does not affect clinical outcomes related to pregnancy, it just does not affect pregnant women in a bad way,” he said.
To make 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 protected]