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One Mother Urges The Importance of Vaccines After Her Pregnant Daughter Was Hospitalized for COVID-19

An illustration of a pregnant woman getting covid-19 vaccine shot.
Marcela Vieira
According to the CDC less than a quarter of pregnant women have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

21-year-old Grayson Bakes was 34 weeks pregnant when she caught COVID-19 from a customer at work. Since then, she's been fighting for her life at Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem.

“We were trying to take care of [Grayson’s symptoms] and then, boom, it all just happened real fast,” her mother Jamie Bakes said.

Grayson was unvaccinated, like a large number of expecting mothers in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than a quarter of pregnant women have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

After contracting the virus, Grayson found herself in and out of the hospital getting fluids and oxygen. Then one night, after not feeling her baby move in 24 hours, and still reeling from a fever and low oxygen levels, her mom called 911. Once the ambulance arrived, they determined she needed an ICU bed which was almost 100 miles away.

“The thing that's so hard and pregnant women need to recognize this, is that there is not a lot they can give you to help you [with the symptoms] because of the baby,” Jamie said.

After arriving at the hospital, doctors performed an emergency cesarean section and intubated Grayson as well as her baby.

Jamie said her daughter was planning on getting the vaccine but was told to wait at one of her OB-GYN check ups because of the limited data available.

“It’s no fault of her provider. It was just the information at the time,” she said.

Now as more studies have become available, the CDC and other health organizations are encouraging expecting mothers to get vaccinated.

“We actually have data now and that's the difference,” said Dr. Torri Metz, vice chair for research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Utah. “So it's not just a shift in us giving a different message, it's really a shift in us having the data to be able to tell you that we think this is safe and effective in pregnancy.”

Metz said unvaccinated pregnant women are at a higher risk of COVID complications than non-pregnant women.

“We know that pregnant patients who get [COVID-19] are more likely to require intensive care unit stays, require ventilator use and are also more likely to die,” she said.

A common complication that also arises is preterm delivery, like Grayson experienced.

Metz acknowledged that many pregnant women are still concerned about the long-term effects of vaccines, but she said providers are much more concerned about the long-term implications of COVID infection.

We understand that pregnant women really want to very carefully consider anything that they're doing during pregnancy,” she said, “but in this case, I feel very comfortable saying that it’s the vaccine.

Metz said there’s a lot of misinformation out there and it can be difficult to navigate but she emphasized the importance of addressing those concerns with a healthcare provider and researching credible resources available online.

As for Grayson, she was recently taken off the ventilator and is slowly recovering. She plans on getting the vaccine as soon as she’s cleared. Her baby has since been discharged.

Still, her mom had a lasting message for other expecting mothers.

“Pregnant women get vaccinated,” Jamie said. “Everyone get vaccinated, wear your masks, if you don't want to get vaccinated — we all have personal choices. It's not about that. It's not about judgment. It's just about protection.”

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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