Thailand’s coronavirus task force on Wednesday called on pregnant women in the country to get vaccinated against COVID-19, citing a higher risk of deaths among those who become infected with the coronavirus.
“We have a target of vaccinating 500,000 women who are at least 12 weeks pregnant, but only 2,078, or 0.4%, have received two doses,” Apisamai Srirangsan, a spokesperson for the coronavirus task force, told a news briefing.
“Pregnant women are 2.5 times more likely to die after an infection than others due to changes to body shape that makes breathing more difficult,” said Apisamai.
Thailand has fully vaccinated about 9.7% of its overall population of over 66 million with a combination of China’s Sinovac vaccine and AstraZeneca shots.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is being offered to pregnant women and as a booster to medical workers who had previously received two shots of Sinovac.
Health ministry data showed since April 2,327 pregnant women had been infected, of which 22 had received one vaccine dose.
So far, 53 women and 23 unborn babies had died, the data showed.
A study by British scientists in April showed that pregnant women infected with COVID-19 faced higher risks than previously known such as premature birth, high blood pressure with organ failure risk, need for intensive care and possible death.
Women who are at least three months pregnant can safely get inoculated with any vaccine, Apisamai said, adding that immunity could also be transferred to the child.
Thailand has reported 1.1 million cases of the coronavirus and over 10,000 fatalities, the majority of which occurred after April.