After Toronto spike, doctors urge for pregnant women to be given priority for vaccines

As more and more people become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Quebec, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada is urging that pregnant women be made a priority.

The OBGYNs are asking particularly that women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant get shots due to new data showing pregnant women are more susceptible to a COVID-19 variant.

Dr. Gabrielle Cassir said that last weekend, there was a noticeable spike in hospital admissions among pregnant women for the virus last weekend in Toronto.

“Thirty per cent of their (intensive care unit) beds were pregnant patients, most of them even requiring intubation and ventilation,” she said. “The third trimester particularly seems to be at risk for higher severity of the disease.”

In Quebec, pregnant women are still not among the eligible groups for vaccines, with health officials saying they can only receive the shot if they fall into other high-risk groups such as healthcare workers or teachers, or have other health issues.

But Public Health director Horacio Arruda indicated that could soon change.

“Even in the first trimester, the vaccine could be recommended,” he said. “We asked the pregnant women to discuss with their gynecologist or doctor, but we're going to take that into account, if the risk is getting higher in those groups.”

None of the recent clinical trials on COVID-19 vaccines have looked specifically at the impact on pregnant women, according to McGill University immunologist Donald Vinh.

“In the real-world experience, there have been women who have been pregnant who got the vaccine and they seem to be just fine afterwards,” he said. “But we don't yet have those studies finalized to prove that vaccines are unambiguously safe in pregnant women.”

“There's data to suggest that when the pregnant mother makes antibodies with the vaccines, she passes those antibodies onto the baby which gives another level of protection to the baby,” he added.