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Dr Adesh Sirjusingh

Medical officials are again urging pregnant women to come forward and get vaccinated once they can as COVID-19 infection rates are increasing among this cohort which has been deemed a high-risk group.

Making the plea yesterday was Women’s Health Director, Dr Adesh Sirjusingh who said a total of 744 pregnant women have so far contracted the virus between March 2020 and up to yesterday.

Two maternal deaths were also recorded. Dr Sirjusingh revealed two expectant mothers passed away from complications associated with the virus.

Following an analysis of the data collected by the MOH, Dr Sirjusingh said September 2021 had seen the highest number of cases being recorded in pregnant women who contracted COVID-19.

So far, 21 cases have been recorded for this month.

A breakdown of the statistics revealed that in 2020 – 58 mothers contracted COVID-19; while 504 mothers contracted the virus during January to August this year.

Providing updated statistics during the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) virtual media briefing yesterday, he said up to Saturday – 714 pregnant women had received their first of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine.

He urged expectant mothers to get vaccinated because they are considered a high-risk group for hospitalization, or death if they were to contract the virus.

Seeking to reassure expecting mothers, Dr Sirjusingh said, “We have not seen any harm with respect to the vaccine.”

“The vaccine protects the pregnant women as well as protects your unborn baby through the passage of anti-bodies after receiving the vaccine,” he explained.

Although vaccination remains voluntary at this time, Dr Sirjusingh advised that it was highly recommended.

Responding to concerns regarding claims that the COVID-19 vaccine had led to an increase in menstrual cramps and/or heavier flow among women, Sirjusingh claimed no definite link had been established but said research is ongoing.

He said there were common causes for menstrual disturbances which included stress; weight gain/loss; fibroids – of which eight out of every ten women in Trinidad and Tobago experience at some point; pregnancy; polycystic ovary syndrome; and thyroid disorders.

Meanwhile, although Trinidad and Tobago recorded seven additional COVID-19 Delta cases, bringing the total number so far confirmed to 49 – health officials are unwilling to disclose any information relating to the deaths of two persons who reportedly died from this viral strain.

Questioned by three separate reporters during yesterday’s virtual media briefing, Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds refused to answer as he cited patient confidentiality.

Indicating the MOH did not want to reveal information on the two, he argued, “We’re avoiding specifying vaccine status of individuals, given the small number we’re currently dealing with and we’re looking at patterns.”

He assured, “As a pattern establishes itself, we will most certainly share that information…against the backdrop of protecting the individual patient’s confidentiality.”

Reinforcing that the risk of death from COVID-19 was significantly reduced in someone who is vaccinated, he added, “The individuals who have been vaccinated and have still had COVID-19 and passed on, have generally been individuals who have had pre-existing conditions that were actually quite severe.”

Last Saturday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said the presence of the Delta variant had been confirmed in every county across T&T.

Dr Hinds added yesterday, “As we’ve said before, we have noted that this pattern of spread indicates that there is the likelihood of undetected chains of community transmission and that we need to be additionally aware, additionally conscious, and additionally stringent in adhering to our public health regulations and even more keen on getting our vaccinations to reduce our risk.”