Leaked data from midwives shows that hundreds of pregnant people in Te Tai Tokerau are not vaccinated against Covid as the number of cases increases.
The latest figures circulated among Northland DHB staff, including senior managers, show that more than half (57 percent) of the 847 people in the region registered with maternity services had not received a single dose of Pfizer. at the end of last month.
In Kaitāia and Dargaville, it was two-thirds.
Overall, only a quarter received a double dose, despite being in Group 2, which was first eligible in March.
The numbers were leaked to RNZ after DHB and Health Ministry communications staff said this week they were unaware of vaccination rates among pregnant people because they did not collect the data.
University of Auckland Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Dr Michelle Wise said: “Simply being pregnant alone is a risk factor for moderate to severe Covid infection, being hospitalized, being admitted to intensive care, and this is what we have seen everywhere.
“The most recent study to come out was from the UK, where they looked at all the patients who were admitted to intensive care during the Delta outbreak and in fact one in five of them was an unvaccinated pregnant person.”
There are 24 active cases of Covid-19 in Northland, and the risk of infection for infants was noted in Whangārei this week when a six-week-old boy with Covid was admitted to hospital.
“It is a tragedy that a baby becomes infected with Covid when we know that the pēpi can protect itself from the antibodies that the mother produces when she receives the vaccine,” said Dr. Wise.
Te Tai Tokerau was already battling vaccine vacillation when the pandemic began.
On average, one in five Northland babies has not received their routine immunizations by eight months of age.
The Kawakawa Wiki Davis (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Manu) midwife, who did not leak DHB figures to RNZ, is caring for 23 pregnant women, but only a third have received injections from Pfizer.
“Any number of research articles that I offer or discuss with them, they don’t seem to be changing their mind.
“I haven’t had much success in getting women to go ahead and get vaccinated,” she said.
“I have had one or two successes, but not as many as I thought or expected.”
His midwifery business partner is not vaccinated and will be leaving the profession before terms begin on Monday, leaving Davis with much more mahi, practicing on his own.
“I absolutely respect your decision to do that … Even though I have chosen myself to be vaccinated.”
An unvaccinated pregnant mother from Whangārei told RNZ that she had received mixed messages about inoculation, which made her anxious.
“I can’t sleep anymore, and then you’re struggling with it, and you’re like ‘ah, I have more family’ and then your anxiety increases, and then the whole stage for complications sets in when you have fear, anxiety, and stress.
“There is definitely an information overload,” he said.
You have had to change midwives because of the vaccine mandate rules.
Those who are not vaccinated and pregnant are five times more likely to have a premature baby than needs neonatal intensive care, if they get Covid-19.
Although pregnant people were not included in the initial trials of the Pfizer vaccine, subsequent large-scale surveillance has shown no harm to the pregnancy.
The complex system published research this week shows that those who are hapū, and those who try to conceive, are being “exploited” by vaccine misinformation.
One of the authors, Kate Hannah, told RNZ that this information “had been quite visually framed.”
“A lot of quite emotional content that is visually disturbing, around concerns about pregnancy, bleeding and miscarriage.”
She said that those who want to debunk the falsehoods of vaccines should not only provide scientific evidence, but also personal reasons for vaccination, such as protecting whakapapa.
Overall, in Te Tai Tokerau, one in five people has not yet been vaccinated.
The region is 14,000 shots away from the 90 percent target for single doses, more than any other DHB in the country.
Northland DHB did not disclose its Covid-19 vaccination rates among midwifery personnel and RNZ contractors.
Research published in 2018 in the New Zealand Medical Journal showed that only two-thirds of midwives had high confidence in vaccines.