I suspect for many people, last year was a time for reflection. It certainly was for my family.
And like many couples, my husband and I used our time in lockdown to discuss what the future held for us and our family.
With the pandemic raging, it was clear that our travel dreams were off the table for the foreseeable future.
Instead we opened the lid on another conversation, our desire to have a third baby.
We’ve been pretty open about our heartbreak in the past, including a stillborn and a late pregnancy loss, so going for a third was not an easy decision.
But a year later we are incredibly excited to be shortly welcoming a lockdown baby into our family.
But being pregnant during a global pandemic has not been without its challenges.
Two months ago, we were told by my obstetrician that I should get vaccinated for Covid as quickly as possible.
Naively, neither of us had contemplated or discussed the possibility of vaccination while pregnant.
It seems ironic that the thought hadn’t crossed my mind given we run a healthcare start-up (Tend), but I simply believed I’d be ineligible for vaccination until later in the year because of my age.
I had not appreciated that pregnant women were a priority group, but there is increasing evidence that there is a much higher risk of severe Covid complications in women who are pregnant.
The decision to proceed was easy, and I had my first vaccination at the end of July.
While I can understand that pregnant women might be nervous about receiving the Covid vaccine, the facts speak for themselves.
There is no known physiological mechanism by which the vaccine can cause problems with pregnancy.
In the US, over 200,000 pregnant women have received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) without any safety concerns.
In fact, there is growing evidence that newborns can get protection from the virus through antibodies transferred through cord blood.
Meanwhile, in the UK, 99 per cent of pregnant women hospitalised with Covid were unvaccinated – increasing the risk of severe symptoms to them and their babies.
“Opting out” of being vaccinated never crossed my mind and waiting for others to go first didn’t sit well with me.
I believe having the opportunity to be vaccinated is a privilege, one that we should all embrace.
With the country being plunged back into level 4 lockdown, it is becoming clear that vaccinating our population is a critical path out of lockdown.
Delta is a different beast to previous variants of the virus. It is much more contagious and much more difficult to contain.
Keeping it out of the country forever is nearly impossible. And while this made another level 4 lockdown inevitable, it still came as a shock when it hit.
More shocking is how quickly it spread in just a couple of weeks.
I’m managed by the high-risk maternity unit at ADHB and had a scheduled appointment with my obstetrician the day before hearing a nurse at the hospital tested positive.
Thankfully she was fully vaccinated.
This week we learned a tradie we use regularly around the house had also tested positive. He was due to come to our home two days after his exposure event.
With Delta, you become infectious earlier and more quickly. If we had not entered lockdown when we did, I have no doubt he would have been at our home.
I never believed we would be so close to the cluster, no one ever does. Like others, I naively thought it happens to “others” and not me.
But thankfully I’d had my first vaccination and as of this past Saturday I am now fully vaccinated.
But with numbers continuing to climb, it’s clear to me that our only pathway out of this is vaccination.
That is why I was disappointed the Prime Minister has failed to set a clear vaccination target for the country.
In my view, our goal should be that everyone who is eligible and able to be must be vaccinated.
There is no room to tolerate anti-vaxxers, conspirators or the sceptics who selfishly think they should have the option to opt-out.
We need to listen to the science and vaccinate our population if we want to have our freedoms back.
Thankfully, lockdown has caused a stampede of vaccination activity.
And while this is great, I was horrified when the Deputy Prime Minister announced we only had 700,000 doses of vaccine left in the country over the weekend.
That might seem impressive, but it’s not hard to calculate that if we are vaccinating 60,000 people per/day, we will run out of vaccine in the next 12 days (as of Sunday 22).
Our next shipment isn’t due until October, meaning that we risk losing the opportunity to keep vaccinating through September.
We are fighting a war against Delta and the only way we will win is through vaccination. If we fail to vaccinate now, we will lose our fight against the virus.
I do not want pregnant women missing out on the chance of protecting themselves and their babies over the next month.
So we must ask our Prime Minister, what will she and our Government do to ensure we have vaccine supply through September to vaccinate our population urgently?
And let’s agree that the rights of the many are more important than the rights of the few.
Let’s embark on an ambitious commitment to vaccinate our entire population, ensuring everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated can access it.
The Prime Minister has a responsibility to ensure that there is no room for the selfish if we are truly a team of five million.
– Cecilia Robinson is the founder and co-CEO of health startup Tend.
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