Kenya: Covid-19 Raises Risks of Pregnant Women

24 November 2021

Pregnant and recently pregnant women are at increased risk for severe illness and death from Covid-19 unlike the non-pregnant ones. This is according to a new study published by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC scientists analysed Covid-19 data from Mississippi State Department of Health posted in the March 1, 2020 to October 6, 2021 period. They found a high death rate (nine deaths per 1,000 Covid-19 infections) among pregnant women who tested positive for the virus against the 2.5 deaths for the non-pregnant women of reproductive age.

The Delta variant worsened their vulnerability leading to an increase in deaths by five-fold. Of the 15 pregnant women who died during the period, none was fully vaccinated.

Covid-19 vaccination

"CDC recommends Covid-19 vaccination for women who are pregnant, recently pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future," they state in the study release.

From the onset of the vaccination drive in Kenya, questions arose over the safety of pregnant women being vaccinated owing to limited data on the same.

Mid-August, Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (KOGS) recommended access to the vaccines for the pregnant and breastfeeding women noting that "there is no evidence of adverse maternal or foetal effects from vaccinating pregnant women."

It advised counselling the expectant women ready to take the jab in consideration of the lack of data on vaccine safety for the foetus, risks to pregnant women from Covid-19 infection, and a person's individual risk for infection and severe disease.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, later encouraged pregnant women to get the vaccine, noting that the decision was informed by consultation with professional bodies including KOGS.

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