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Hawaii officials confirm 3rd maternal death due to COVID-19

A third maternal death due to COVID-19 in Hawaii has been confirmed, according to the committee that oversees them.

Dr. Stacy Tsai, chair of the Hawaii Maternal Mortality Review Committee, confirmed that a third pregnant woman has died from the coronavirus after giving birth. Her baby survived.

Two other maternal deaths occurred in September among women who suffered from severe disease due to the coronavirus. They also died after giving birth, and their babies also survived.

The news comes as Hawaii doctors urge pregnant and recently pregnant women to get vaccinated due to high risks from contracting COVID-19.

Women who are pregnant and recently pregnant are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, requiring hospitalization, intensive care or ventilators. Additionally, pregnant women who contract the virus are at increased risk for preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, including stillbirth.

The CDC recently issued an urgent health advisory on the need to increase vaccination rates among pregnant and recently pregnant women, saying the benefits outweigh known or potential risks.

Further, doctors advise that pregnant women receive a booster COVID-19 shot if it’s at least six months since they became fully vaccinated.

Only about 34% of women ages 18 to 49 who are pregnant in the U.S. have been vaccinated, according to statistics released in mid-October — compared to about 25% in August.

The Hawaii Department of Health has reached out to the community via social media channels, urging pregnant women to get vaccinated in light of CDC’s findings.

“We recommend all people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or thinking about becoming pregnant get vaccinated against COVID-19,” said the DOH in a Facebook post. “Protect your child and yourself by getting vaccinated. Increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications related to COVID-19 infection make vaccination more urgent than ever.”

Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char is also urging this demographic to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We urge expectant moms and those planning to get pregnant to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Char in a statement. “The vaccines are both safe and effective for pregnant women. Research shows the vaccines do not increase the risk of miscarriage. Instead, they protect women from serious complications associated with COVID-19.”

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