Obstetricians & Gynaecologists urge govt to vaccinate pregnant women “as soon as possible”

Pregnant woman

The government should consider vaccinating the 319,000 pregnant women on a priority basis the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (SLCOG) said yesterday.

Addressing the media in Colombo, President of the SLCOG, Dr. Pradeep de Silva said that ensuring the safety of pregnant women was a top priority. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) had recommended that the risk of not vaccinating pregnant women was much greater than the slight chance of complications, he said.

“Most of these women will be vaccinated, but what we are suggesting is that they be moved to a higher priority,” Dr. de Silva said.

SLCOG had calculated the facilities needed to ensure the safety of pregnant women who develop complications from coronavirus, Dr. de Silva said, adding that 80% of pregnant women who contracted COVID-19 were asymptomatic and out of the 20% who show symptoms, 5% needed specialized attention.

“We need about 50 – 200 high-dependency unit (HDU) beds per district, based on the population, 10 – 50 high flow oxygen machines per district, four to ten ICU beds and two dedicated Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines. If we get this, we will be able to deal with pregnant women who develop complications from COVID-19 for the next four to five years,” he said.

Dr. de Silva said that one pregnant woman passed away on Wednesday due to complications from SARS-CoV-2 and that she has been suffering from a number of Non communicable diseases.

However, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Dr Mayuramana Dewolage who heads the ward that treats COVID-19 infected pregnant women at the Mulleriyawa Base Hospital, said that they only had 37 beds dedicated to pregnant women with COVID-19. The hospital, which has the largest ward dedicated to COVID-19 infected pregnant women, didn’t have any HDU or ICU beds dedicated to them, Dr. Dewolage said.

“We share HDU and ICU beds with other patients at Mulleriyawa Base Hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile Dr Sanath Lanerolle, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Castle Street Hospital for Women said that pregnant women should be extremely careful of coronavirus. While most women in their first trimester usually recover from SARS-CoV-2 without any side effects to the mother and child, those in later trimesters can face many complications.

“If a pregnant woman has conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc, if she is obese or over 35, there is a higher risk of complications. If possible pregnant women must work from home, talk to your employer, and try to figure out an arrangement,” he said.

He added that several pregnant women with SARS-CoV-2 have been found at the latest wave and that these women show more symptoms. “This is the result of the new variant.

Deputy Director General – Public Health Services Dr. Susie Perera said that they had excluded pregnant women from vaccination so far. Even frontline health staff members who were pregnant were not given the jab. However, given the latest research and the events that are unfolding in Sri Lanka, the Ministry had commenced a discussion on vaccinating pregnant women, she said.

(Source: The Island – By Rathindra Kuruwita)