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Nurse who lost baby to COVID-19 complications urges vaccinations

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 1:53 AM EDT
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ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - A Missouri nurse who lost her baby to complications from COVID-19 is encouraging others, especially pregnant women, to get vaccinated.

Vanessa Alfermann, a nurse at Missouri Baptist in Sullivan, caught COVID-19 shortly after her husband in November 2020. She was about 20 weeks pregnant at the time, and her mild case of the virus quickly took a turn.

“I woke up and realized I was in labor… I realized that something bad was going on,” she said. “I was scared because I knew what this meant. I knew Axel would be born, and I know from being a nurse in school that his outcome was not good.”

Nurse Vanessa Alfermann caught COVID-19 shortly after her husband in November 2020. Following...
Nurse Vanessa Alfermann caught COVID-19 shortly after her husband in November 2020. Following complications related to the virus, she delivered her son, Axel, at just 22 weeks. She had only seconds with him before he died.(Source: Vanessa Alfermann, KMOV via CNN)

Alfermann was rushed to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, where she delivered her son Axel at just 22 weeks. She had only seconds with him before he died.

“It’s devastating because you have this goal after these nine months that you’re going to have a little baby, a little boy to be yours, to take care of, and to have it just stolen, it was devastating,” she said.

Doctors told Alfermann that COVID-19 caused a blood clot to form on her placenta that eventually erupted.

“To think that there was nothing I could do – Nothing I could have done would have changed what happened because I had COVID,” she said.

As a healthcare worker, Alfermann was one of the first eligible to get the vaccine when it became available just a few weeks after her son’s death. Now, 17 months into the pandemic, she wishes others would also get vaccinated.

“I have family, friends that think this is not real, [that] it’s a hoax, even after knowing my story, that the vaccine is a political issue. It’s definitely like a slap in the face to hear them say this to me,” she said.

Dr. Asal Fathian, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Mercy, says unvaccinated pregnant women have a higher risk of complications from COVID-19, including premature births, miscarriages and stillbirths.

“Really, the best protection pregnant women have against these complications is getting vaccinated. We know it’s a safe vaccine in pregnancy, women do well with it and it’s just your best way of protecting yourself and your baby,” Fathian said.

Both Alfermann and Fathian are urging others, especially pregnant women, to get vaccinated or at least talk to their doctors.

Copyright 2021 KMOV via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.