Pregnant Woman Says She'll Get Vaccinated After COVID Nearly Killed Her

A pregnant California woman who nearly died from COVID-19 has said that she will now get vaccinated following her experience.

Katie Pederson from Seal Beach was 24 weeks into her pregnancy when she tested positive for the disease, ABC7 reported.

At that point, the woman had not been vaccinated. Pederson told ABC7 that when she found out she was carrying a child, very few pregnant women that she knew of were getting COVID-19 vaccines.

"I was going to wait until my third trimester until it was more readily available and there was more information. I felt safe in my decision, until I wasn't," Pederson said.

After testing positive, the woman's condition became progressively worse and she took herself to an emergency room in Orange County.

"They admitted me and that's the last time I saw my husband for about three and half weeks," Pederson said.

Subsequently, she was transferred to the ICU and doctors had to intubate her in order to keep her alive.

"I was intubated and put under. That's when I thought I was going to die," Pederson said.

Dr. Peyman Benharash, one of the medical team who treated Pederson at UCLA Health, told ABC7: "Once the breathing tube went in, it became pretty clear that her lungs weren't going to sustain her."

Medical staff then had to insert cannulas into her arteries in order to provide oxygen for her and her baby. A cannula is a kind of tube that is inserted into the body for medical purposes.

"That removes blood from the patient and in this particular case adds blood and removes carbon dioxide, and then returns the blood to the patient," Benharash said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women and those who have recently had a baby are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people (although the overall risk of severe illness is "low").

This is because pregnancy causes changes in the body—such as suppressing the immune system in order to avoid damaging the fetus—that can reduce the body's ability to fight off the respiratory infection.

Eventually, Pederson managed to overcome the worst of the infection, but she is still recovering physically and mentally from her experience. She is now 35 weeks pregnant with a baby boy, telling ABC7 that she doesn't want any other expectant mothers to wait like she did to get vaccinated.

"What's right for me is protecting my body and getting vaccinated," Pederson said.

The CDC say that pregnant women with COVID-19 are also at increased risk for preterm birth—i.e. delivering the baby earlier than 37 weeks—as well as other "poor" pregnancy outcomes.

Earlier this month, Mississippi health authorities announced that at least eight pregnant women had died from COVID-19 since late July—none of them fully vaccinated—more than doubling the state's total of such cases in just under two months.

"Please get vaccinated," Dr. Thomas Dobbs, Mississippi's medical officer, said during a news conference. "You've got to protect yourself; you've got to protect your baby."

In August, a 32-year-old Texas woman died from COVID-19 shortly after giving birth. Paige Ruiz told her mother before she died that she wished she had gotten vaccinated, WFAA reported.

The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant, or may become pregnant.

A pregnant woman in hospital
Stock image showing a pregnant woman in hospital. A pregnant California woman who almost died from COVID-19 said she will now get vaccinated after her experience. iStock