Medics ‘working hard’ to keep ICU beds free for premature babies due to ‘extra pressure’ from Covid births, says leading doctor Tom Black in latest vaccine appeal
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The chair of the British Medical Association in Northern Ireland, Dr Tom Black, said medics are “working very hard” to ensure there are “enough beds” for premature babies.
His warning follows successive appeals from leading health professionals over recent weeks for pregnant women to take up the offer of coronavirus vaccination urgently, amid an influx of pregnant women in hospitals with the virus. Dr Black, speaking to the News Letter, added his voice to those appeals.
“Initially, we were very careful about vaccinating pregnant women because we weren’t sure. But since then there have been studies done with hundreds of thousands of pregnant women who have been vaccinated, and no harm has come to them or their babies,” he explained.
“So, given that we have a lot more experience in using the Covid vaccines with pregnant women we can say now with confidence, a great deal of certainty, that the wise thing to do for pregnant women is have their vaccination.”
Dr Black continued: “Now this doesn’t just protect them and their baby but it also protects them, in particular, from premature labour which is associated with Covid infection.
“We have certainly seen a lot of ladies recently who went into hospital in premature labour — and that’s not good for them or for their baby. We have had a lot of extra pressure on the neonatal intensive care units because of this.”
Hinting at the severity of the problem, Dr Black said: “The neonatal intensive care units are working very hard to ensure that there are enough beds throughout the hospitals in Northern Ireland.”
Meanwhile, the Western Trust shared the testimony of one unvaccinated pregnant woman who found herself in hospital with coronavirus on social media. Emma, who is 29 weeks pregnant and currently in hospital with coronavirus, said: “As cautious as I was with Covid, I never thought I would catch it never mind end up in a high dependency ward. I was wrong.”
She said she was informed on her sixth day in hospital that she would have to have an emergency c-section as her oxygen levels fell, but she avoided needing to go into intensive care and is on the road to recovery.
“I can now finally see myself getting home in the next few days after what has been a gruelling few weeks and to see my babies and husband again and be able to hug them and tell them how much I love them,” she added. “My thought now is as soon as I can I will be getting the vaccine.”