Latina who gave birth while on life support after contracting COVID-19 urges vaccinations

Latina who gave birth while on life support after contracting COVID-19 urges vaccinations

NBC News’ Nicole Acevedo reports that Maryland mom María Esther Roque Díaz is strongly urging pregnant individuals, “particularly other Latinas,” get the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s because she gave birth to her child while on life support after contracting the virus. Roque Díaz gave birth to Dylan via cesarean section in December 2020. She would not fully reawaken until mid-February 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says ”[e]vidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.” But Acevedo reports “[t]he majority of pregnant people remain unvaccinated.” Dr. Allison Lankford, who cared for Roque Díaz while she was on life support, told Acevedo that pregnant patients may be frightened of taking medications.

“The most important thing is just awareness and education,” Lankford said in the report, noting “the alternative of getting Covid has the potential to be much more harmful to both mom and the pregnancy.’”

That’s the message from Roque Díaz. She experienced complications following her c-section, and is today undergoing physical therapy to regain her strength and mobility. She is also dealing with difficult trauma outside the hospital walls. She said that her older child, 2-year-old Emanuel, calls her “‘Hey, you.’ That was tough on me because he essentially didn’t know who I was. When he would come near me to carry him, I had to explain to him that I couldn’t. I would tell him to please forgive me.”

“If the vaccine would’ve been available to me when I was pregnant, I would’ve gotten it without thinking about it twice,” she continued to NBC News. “We know that, even in the United States alone, maternal mortality has been on the rise,” Lankford continued in the report. “Unfortunately, this pandemic has only contributed to that increase. So, in order to start to make a difference, we strongly encourage everyone to be vaccinated.”

The CDC said in guidelines that vaccination of pregnant individuals “build antibodies that might protect their baby. When pregnant people receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy, their bodies build antibodies against COVID-19, similar to non-pregnant people. Antibodies made after a pregnant person received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine were found in umbilical cord blood. This means COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy might help protect babies against COVID-19.”

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