Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System on Thursday emphasized the importance for pregnant women to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Their statements followed a CDC recommendation for pregnant women. According to the CDC, only 23 percent of pregnant women had received at least one dose of the vaccine by July 31.
“We know that there’s a lot of fear and hesitancy out there, and we hear it daily when we talk to our patients,” Dr. Carrie Wienke, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at KU Health System, said about the patient reluctance to get the COVID vaccine. “What we are seeing in the past few weeks and months is that Delta (variant) is hitting our pregnant patients and postpartum moms much stronger than the first wave.”
The New England Journal of Medicine recently published an article showing the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, according to Dr. Marc Parrish with maternal fetal medicine at KU Health System.
Now, there is more evidence from the United States and other countries that bolster the knowledge the vaccine is safe, he said.
Also, studies showed that pregnant mothers who are unvaccinated tend to become sicker than vaccinated persons, he said.
Last year, they saw a lot of pregnant women who were COVID positive, but the majority were asymptomatic and did not have a severe case of COVID, Dr. Wienke said.
A change this year is that there is more severe disease among unvaccinated pregnant women, she said.
“It’s a preventable situation to be in,” she said.
The Delta variant seems to have a more severe effect on pregnant women than the original COVID, according to Dr. Stites.
They are seeing much sicker moms coming in with the Delta wave than with the original virus last year, Dr. Parrish said.
“There’s no point in waiting to be a statistic,” he said. “It’s time to get vaccinated.”
The doctors said it has been a surprise to see the level of distrust in the experts about this topic. They hear or see other information from random sources, but the doctors are following the science and providing guidance based on their expertise and science.
“So in all of the studies that we have from the very beginning, there has not been a single safety scare in our data points that has even made us pause about the safety,” Dr. Wienke said. “I think when you walk into an ICU and you see any patient laying there, that’s hard. And then when it’s a really young person, it really hits a nerve.”
Dr. Parrish said that parents want to protect their babies, and some are concerned about side effects of the vaccine on the unborn children. However, he believes vaccines are safe for the mothers and their babies.
“What I try to counter is with the data that we do have – not only what gets published – but patients like to hear what we’re seeing in our own patient population,” Dr. Parrish said. “Even with giving my reassurance that if you were my wife, my sister, close friend…I would say you should get the vaccine.”
There is also no evidence to support the internet myth that the COVID vaccine causes infertility, Dr. Wienke said.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control, said the data supports the safety of COVID vaccines for pregnant women.
“There is plenty of medical data out there,” he said. It is easily found, he said. He cited a journal article about the Pfizer vaccine after six months. The study showed a group of people who did not receive the vaccine had many more cases than a group that received the vaccine. There were significantly more severe cases in the people who did not get vaccinated, he said.
Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System, discouraged people from believing everything they read on social media about COVID-19. What’s written on social media sometimes hurts people, according to Dr. Stites, and in this case, misinformation about COVID-19 is hurting the individuals who believe it.
The doctors urged people to get vaccines, and they encouraged pregnant women to listen to their doctors.
To see more about this topic, visit https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/260746969233676.
Vaccines, tests available
The former Kmart building at 7836 State Ave., a Unified Government Health Department vaccination site, will be open for testing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and for free COVID-19 vaccinations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. Walk-ins are accepted. There are incentives being offered for Wyandotte County residents, while supplies last. See WycoVaccines.org.
COVID-19 testing and vaccinations are available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at the Willa Gill Services Center, 645 Nebraska Ave., Kansas City, Kansas. The vaccines are through Vibrant Health. Appointments are not required. Walk-ins are accepted. The Pfizer vaccine is available for ages 12 and older, and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is available for those ages 18 and older. Those under 18 need parent or guardian approval. PCR saliva tests will be available.
COVID-19 testing from WellHealth will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at the Kansas National Guard Armory, 100 S. 20th. Appointments are necessary. The site is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To make an appointment, including a same-day appointment, visit https://www.gogettested.com/kansas.
Mobile vaccines can be requested online at WycoVaccines.org or by calling 3-1-1 (913-573-5311). For more information on the Unified Government Health Department’s vaccine schedule, see WycoVaccines.org.
COVID-19 vaccines and tests are available at other locations in Wyandotte County, including some pharmacies. For locations and availability, visit www.vaccines.gov.
Free vaccinations at KU Health System are open to the public, and appointments are required. Current patients may use MyChart to make an appointment. Others may call 913-588-1227 or visit kansashealthsystem.com/vaccine to make an appointment to get vaccinated. KU Health System currently is vaccinating residents of Kansas and Missouri who are 12 or older, by appointment only. Those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the appointment.
Case numbers reported
The University of Kansas Health System reported 78 total COVID-19 patients on Thursday, Sept. 16, the same as Wednesday, according to Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control. Thirty-eight patients with the active virus were inpatients on Thursday, the same as Wednesday. Seventeen patients were in the intensive care unit, an increase of one since Wednesday. Only two COVID ICU patients were vaccinated. Ten patients were on ventilators, an increase of one snce Wednesday. Forty other patients were still hospitalized from COVID, but were out of the acute infection phase, the same number as Wednesday. There was one COVID patient death in the hospital on Wednesday.
Wyandotte County reported a cumulative 23,459 cases on Thursday, Sept. 16, an increase of 85 cases since Wednesday, Sept. 15, according to the Unified Government Health Department’s COVID-19 webpage. There were a cumulative total of 353 deaths on Thursday, an increase of eight since Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Sept. 15, the Unified Government Health Department reported that 47.98 percent of Wyandotte County residents had received at least one dose of vaccine. Those completing their vaccinations totaled about 41.34 percent.
The percentage of Wyandotte County residents who were age 12 and older who had received at least one dose was 59 percent.
The Mid-America Regional Council reported 209,635 cases on Thursday in Greater Kansas City, a nine-county area. There were a total of 2,864 deaths. The daily average of new hospitalizations was 134.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported 393,696 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Kansas on Wednesday, Sept. 15, an increase of 3,554 since Monday, Sept. 13. There was a total of 5,801 cumulative deaths reported statewide, an increase of 28 since Sept. 13.
The KDHE reported 72,640 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Johnson County on Sept. 15, an increase of 488 since Sept. 13. Leavenworth County had 9,644 cases on Sept. 15, an increase of 72 since Sept. 13. Sedgwick County (the Wichita area) reported 72,470 cases on Sept. 15, an increase of 920 since Sept. 13.
On Wednesday, the KHDE reported 11,123 cumulative cases in Douglas County (the Lawrence area), an increase of 101 since Sept. 13. Riley County (the Manhattan area) had 7,388 cumulative cases, an increase of 54 since Sept. 13. Shawnee County (the Topeka area) had 23,628 cumulative cases, an increase of 348 cases since Sept. 13.
On Thursday night, there were a cumulative 41,785,979 COVID-19 cases in the United States, with a cumulative 670,009 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Wyandotte County residents may contact the Health Department at wycohelp.org to sign up for a test to be delivered to their home.
For more details about free COVID-19 testing offered by the UG Health Department, visit https://www.facebook.com/UGHealthDept or call 3-1-1.
To view details about the extension of the mask order in KCK until Nov. 18, visit https://www.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/ug_extendsmaskmandate_nr_09102021.pdf.
To view the resolution extending the mask order, visit https://www.wycokck.org/files/assets/public/health/documents/covid/r-62-21.pdf.