Some 40% of pregnant women who passed away in Thailand since last September did so as a result of complications arising from Covid-19, the Department of Health said yesterday.
The rate is expected to rise as relatively few expectant mothers are getting vaccinated, it added. The announcement came after the department discovered that fewer than 20% of pregnant women have received their first jab.
Dr Ekachai Piansriwatchara, the department's spokesman, revealed that this group is being heavily impacted by the pandemic worldwide. The disease has accounted for 25% of deaths among women with a baby on the way in the United States and in Europe.
The department collected statistics from last October to this September and found that 78 of 192 pregnant women died due to Covid-19 infections.
"During the past 12 months, Covid-19 was the main cause of death among [this group]. We saw a spike in deaths during the wave of outbreaks here from April to September. We have started giving them vaccines since July, followed by an active promotional campaign. But the result seems far from the target," Dr Ekachai said.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, 4,778 pregnant women were infected with Covid-19 from April to September this year. The ministry planned to vaccinate 500,000 expectant mothers countrywide, but only 74,625 received their first dose, or 14.9% of that target. Just over 10%, or 51,989, got two doses, while 526 or 0.1% received a third dose.
The department conducted a survey among 1,165 pregnant women across the nation from Sept 15-29, and found that one-third of respondents had not yet received any vaccine. Over 60% claimed they wanted to get jabbed.
The poll also found that fear of potential side effects was the main concern driving them away (34.4%), followed by a lack of confidence in the safety of the vaccines (30.4%) and the need for more information on them (10.4%).
When asked for their thoughts about the various vaccines, 9.6% of the women said they would choose Pfizer, 8% said they did not want to be vaccinated at all, and 3.4% said they would not mix vaccines.