NEW ORLEANS — A Texas father talked about losing his young wife to COVID. She was expecting their second child but feared getting the vaccine during pregnancy.
“Her OB-GYN said ‘Yeah it's safe.’ But we still wanted to find out and get even more verification,” said Austin Carrington.
The number of pregnant women getting COVID is rising. In August, the infection took the lives of nearly two dozen expectant mothers in the U.S. And in the summer months, 1,000 mothers-to-be tested positive each week. Doctors say the vaccine can prevent this, but most don't want one.
Austin Carrington of Texas is now a single dad to his 15-month-old. His 29-year-old wife Bianca was pregnant when she was hospitalized for COVID and lost the baby.
“The last time she was conscious, she wasn't able to speak. She just took my hands and put them on her belly and i just said, ‘Yeah, I know. I know. I heard,’” he said through tears to CBS News.
And then Austin lost his wife. She was not vaccinated.
“I thought we were playing it safe by not getting the vaccine, because of the baby, and now turns out getting the vaccine would have been the safe bet.”
Stillbirths in unvaccinated women are rising. A direct link to infection has not yet been determined. Deaths of unvaccinated expectant mothers who get the infection, are rising too. Tulane maternal-fetal medicine specialist Dr. Cecilia Gambala says she is seeing the same vaccine hesitancy in the New Orleans area.
When asked if they think it's going to harm the unborn baby in some way, Dr. Gambala replied, “Yes, despite a lot of literature and counseling from many health care providers, there's still significant concern.”
She says when you're pregnant, your immune defense system is lowered, raising the risk of any virus making you sicker. She says the COVID vaccine is safe and protective to mom and unborn baby.
“It's extremely safe. In the mothers who are vaccinated, if there is a breakthrough infection, they do extremely well. And really all the cases that we are seeing are unvaccinated cases.”
When asked if she is seeing local expectant mothers who don't make it or who lose their babies, she answered, “Both.”
She hopes people will get answers from their personal doctors and not social media.
“So if you trust them to take care of you when you're infected, why don't you trust them when they tell you here's what you need to do to prevent that infection,” said Dr. Gambala.
And the doctor says another advantage of getting a vaccine before or during pregnancy, is protection is passed on to the baby.
And if you are pregnant and already vaccinated, there is no recommendation at this time to get a booster.