The outlook in England is even more bleak. One in five of the country’s most critically ill Covid patients are unvaccinated pregnant women, the National Health Service (NHS) said in a Monday statement. Pregnant women accounted for almost a third (32%) of all women between the ages of 16 and 49 on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) — a medical therapy used only when a patient’s lungs are so damaged that a ventilator cannot maintain oxygen levels, the NHS said. This was up from just 6% at the start of the pandemic. The NHS figures were released to encourage expectant mothers to get the shot. England’s chief midwife, Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, said the statistics were “another stark reminder that the Covid-19 jab can keep you, your baby and your loved ones, safe and out of hospital.”
Globally, Covid vaccine guidelines for pregnant and lactating people still vary, with 51 countries explicitly recommending that some or all pregnant people should receive the vaccine, according to the COMIT Covid-19 Maternal Immunization Tracker. The vaccines are permitted for pregnant people in 53 countries and in an additional 23 countries for people who are essential health workers or who have underlying health conditions. A total of 32 countries do not recommend the vaccine for pregnant people yet.
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Q: Do Covid vaccines affect pregnancy, fertility or periods?
Two studies published in September show that Covid vaccines do not increase the risk of miscarriage. Researchers at the CDC studied data from more than 2,000 pregnant people who got vaccinated. They found no higher risk among this group than for pregnant people in general. Miscarriages are common — between 11% and 22% of all recognized pregnancies end in miscarriages before 20 weeks of gestation, they said. This rate did not go up among the vaccinated, researchers said.
There is evidence the immune response prompted by both vaccines and viral infections can temporarily affect menstrual cycles. So studying these effects is important to mitigate any fears, according to Dr. Victoria Male, a reproductive specialist at Imperial College London. “Vaccine hesitancy among young women is largely driven by false claims that Covid-19 vaccines could harm their chances of future pregnancy,” Male wrote in the British Medical Journal last month. “Failing to thoroughly investigate reports of menstrual changes after vaccination is likely to fuel these fears,” she added.
“Most people who report a change to their period after vaccination find that it returns to normal the following cycle and, importantly, there is no evidence that Covid-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility,” Male said.
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The store of up to 200,000 samples, including those from the closing months of 2019, was pinpointed in February this year by the World Health Organization’s panel of investigators as a possible source of information that could help determine when and where the virus first crossed into humans.
UK schools are the new battleground in the Covid disinformation war
At one school in central England, a headmaster had to get the police involved after receiving “abusive and threatening messages” from campaigners who had put up posters accusing the school of “treating children like experimental animals.”
While parents in the UK generally need to authorize vaccination for children under 16, children can overrule vaccine-hesitant parents if a clinician considers them “competent” to do so, the government said.
Sydney has emerged from its ‘cave’
For the first year of the pandemic, Australia was one of the few major nations to successfully control the virus through strict border restrictions, mandatory quarantine and temporary lockdowns. But in June, a Delta outbreak in Sydney quickly spread to the neighboring state of Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Delays to the country’s vaccination rollout, partly due to low supplies, left the population vulnerable, forcing authorities to impose local lockdowns.
What happens next will be critical for both the city and Australia as a whole. Other countries in the region are also watching closely to see if Sydney can succeed in keeping case numbers and deaths low enough to avoid overwhelming hospitals, while still allowing business to resume and people to get on with their lives.
Breastfeeding could help to protect infants from the disease
More data is needed however, to determine what protection those antibodies may provide to the baby.
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Vaccine hesitancy in pregnant people drives rise in Covid hospitalizations