A young mother, who was admitted to hospital severely ill with COVID-19 after declining the vaccine, has sent a powerful message to pregnant mums, urging them to get their jabs.
Anniree Muir was just under 30 weeks’ pregnant when she was taken by ambulance to Bradford Royal Infirmary on September 18. She had tested positive for COVID-19 nine days earlier.
After being admitted to hospital, she was quickly given CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) ventilation treatment as she was struggling to breathe.
Just days later on September 30, doctors, fearing for the health and safety of her unborn son, took the decision to deliver him by emergency Caesarean section. Jahleel weighed just 3lbs at birth and was immediately taken to the hospital’s Neonatal Unit where staff spent six weeks caring for him.
“My lungs were full of COVID and not inflating properly and the baby was putting extra pressure on my lungs so they told me the safest thing was for my baby to be delivered as soon as possible. When they told me that he would have to be delivered so early, I was absolutely petrified,” said Anniree, who is also mum to daughter, Khamiyah, aged 21 months.
“My daughter was full term when she was born and everything felt normal and natural. This felt so scary. After Jahleel was born, he was whisked away to be tested for COVID. Fortunately he was negative but I was still unable to hold him. I was only able to see pictures of him and it was nine days before I could hold him and give him a cuddle.”
Anniree admits she was shocked at how rapidly ill she became with the virus and now regrets not having her COVID jab when offered.
“I am not an anti-vaxxer but I was reluctant to have my jab because I was pregnant and I felt nervous about the effect it might have on the baby. The vaccine seemed so new and it played on my mind whether it would be safe or not,” she said.
“My husband got his jabs when offered and we were both so careful during the pandemic, barely venturing out so I was shocked when I got COVID and shocked at how ill I became. My symptoms were mild at first but after a few days I just got worse and worse. It was on the ninth day, I rang 111 for advice and because of my breathing difficulties they sent an ambulance.
“If I could go back in time, I would have said yes to the vaccine. I am going to get it now as soon as I can.”
Both mum and baby are now doing well and have been able to go home but before leaving hospital, 23-year-old Anniree made a plea to all expectant mums.
“I would now say to anyone who is pregnant and who is nervous about the jab, talk to a health professional, talk to your midwife and get their advice because they will be able to reassure you. But please get the vaccine because I wouldn’t wish what I have been through on anyone.
“I have been very lucky. My baby was 33 weeks and he survived and is now doing really well. He has put on weight. But you could get COVID when your baby is much younger and then they may not survive. The risk is just not worth it.
“We had originally chosen a different name for our baby but we changed it to Jahleel, which is Jamaican and means ‘God’s gift to me’, which is exactly what he is. I know I have been very lucky and I am really thankful.”
Consultant Neonatologist, Sam Oddie led the team who cared for Jahleel on the Neonatal Unit.
He said: “In Bradford, COVID is doing harm to the health of babies because Bradford’s pregnant women haven’t taken up the COVID vaccination in high enough numbers.
“While some well-informed women have had the vaccine, too many have been put off by inaccurate information from social media. Sadly, Bradford has seen more than its fair share of women needing intensive care for a disease that can be prevented or made less serious by simple injections.
“When pregnant women get very ill, their babies often have to be delivered early, which adds risk and disruption to the care of the baby at a time when women are receiving intensive treatment that is already quite distressing enough. I urge women who are pregnant, or are considering pregnancy, to get the COVID vaccine as soon as they can.”