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Coronavirus Australia: Unvaccinated pregnant women in hospital with Covid

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Unvaccinated pregnant woman is fighting for life in hospital with Covid after finding it impossible to get a jab appointment – amid calls for mums-to-be to get priority vaccines

  • A pregnant woman unable to get a Pfizer vaccine is in an intensive care unit
  • She is fighting for her life in Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital with Covid-19
  • The Pfizer vaccine is preferred for pregnant woman, but access is a clear issue
  • Covid increases the risk of pre-term birth by 50% and the risk of death by 60% 










A pregnant woman who was unable to get a Pfizer vaccine is fighting for her life in hospital after catching Covid-19.

The woman, who is 24 weeks pregnant, is in the intensive care unit at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital, amid reports she had tried but failed to book a vaccine appointment before being struck with the virus.

Hunter Medical Research Institute co-director Roger Smith said that this was a serious problem for the woman and her baby, and called for priority vaccines to be given to pregnant women.

A 24 week pregnant woman is fighting for her life in John Hunter Hospital after sh reportedly was unable to access a vaccine

A 24 week pregnant woman is fighting for her life in John Hunter Hospital after sh reportedly was unable to access a vaccine

‘The most distressing part is that she tried to get access to Pfizer but couldn’t – there was no availability of Pfizer to her,’ Professor Smith said to the Daily Telegraph.

‘I am concerned that pregnant women are not given priority for Pfizer, and instead young people are given priority even though their risk of serious illness is not as high.’

He said Pfizer was the preferred vaccine for pregnant women, referencing a US study that showed the risks didn’t vary much from people were aren’t pregnant.

The Commonwealth Health Department, advised by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, has also used the study to advise pregnant women to receive mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer.

Pregnant women are advised to receive mRNA vaccines, including Pfizer, but experts say that supply is the issue (stock)

Pregnant women are advised to receive mRNA vaccines, including Pfizer, but experts say that supply is the issue (stock)

The University of Newcastle’s chair in obstetrics and gynaecology and professor in maternal fetal medicine, Craig Pennell, said that Covid can significantly increase the risk of a pre-term birth and stillbirth.

‘The primary concern for women in intensive care is that the load of being pregnant makes ventilation much more difficult,’ Professor Pennell said to the ABC.

He said that data shows that having Covid while pregnant increased the risk of pre-term birth by 50 per cent, doubled the risk of stillbirth and increased the risk of death by 60 per cent.

The woman is in the intensive care unit in the Newcastle Hospital (pictured), as the risk of having a pre-term birth is increased by 50 per cent after contracting Covid-19

The woman is in the intensive care unit in the Newcastle Hospital (pictured), as the risk of having a pre-term birth is increased by 50 per cent after contracting Covid-19

While Professor Pennel said that it is clear pregnant women are being recommended to get the Pfizer vaccine, the problem was accessing it.

Caroline McCarthy, a pregnant woman from Merewether, confirmed that booking a Pfizer appointment in Newcastle was a nightmare.

She claimed she was in tears while trying to scramble to get a dose of the Covid vaccine, making daily calls to enquire about availabilities.

Even at Newcastle’s mass vaccination centre in Belmont, Ms McCarthy said it didn’t matter if you were pregnant or not, you could not get an appointment. 

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