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Babies admitted to hospital with COVID-19 had unvaccinated mothers, CHEO says

Pediatric hospitals across Ontario are urging pregnant people to get vaccinated because they’re seeing an increase in infants hospitalized with COVID-19.

Since mid-December, CHEO, eastern Ontario’s children’s hospital in Ottawa, and Hamilton’s McMaster Children’s Hospital have admitted a total of six babies under the age of 12 months with the virus. 

“Previous to that, it was a rare occurrence that an infant was hospitalized for COVID-19 infection,” read a news release from the two children’s hospitals along with SickKids in Toronto and the Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

“At CHEO, where they are tracking vaccination status in these particular cases, all the admitted infants’ mothers had not been vaccinated against COVID-19.”

Infants are especially vulnerable because their immune systems haven’t fully developed and may struggle to fight off viruses. 

Documented in other illnesses like flu and whooping cough, vaccinated mothers can transfer antibodies to their unborn children during the third trimester, offering the child some level of protection during the first six months of life. 

It also protects the pregnant person, and all people living with that person should also get inoculated, the news release added.

Despite being at a higher risk, BORN Ontario — which monitors the impact of COVID-19 on the province’s pregnant population — reports vaccine coverage in pregnant individuals is lower than among the general population, even though they have been prioritized.

Its research demonstrates no evidence of adverse effects from receiving a COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy.

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