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Japanese prefecture gives vaccine priority to pregnant women after home birth death

The Aichi Prefectural Government office is seen in Nagoya. (Mainichi/Hiroki Samejima)

NAGOYA -- The Aichi Prefectural Government began priority COVID-19 vaccinations for pregnant women, their husbands and partners from Aug. 23 after an expectant mother infected with the coronavirus lost her baby in a home birth.

    The woman in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, had been unable to find a hospital that would admit her. She went into premature labor at home, and the baby died.

    Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura said at a press conference, "If you get infected in the final stages of pregnancy, symptoms tend to be worse. Please get inoculated."

    Aichi residents can get vaccinated at a mass inoculation site in the prefecture without a reservation. Prior consultation with a family doctor is required, and it is recommended that people bring a mother and child health handbook for the pre-examination. The Aichi government also asked for cooperation from municipalities in the program.

    In addition, the prefecture also established a general consultation desk to answer questions and concerns about coronavirus vaccines from pregnant women. The service is available from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, including weekends and holidays, and can be reached at: 052-954-6272 (in Japanese).

    Meanwhile, the Aichi Medical Association and the Aichi Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are playing a central role in building a health response to the pandemic for pregnant women.

    Mitsuaki Maseki, chairman of the medical association, said, "Polymerase chain reaction tests should be conducted (on pregnant women) preferably before they get contractions, so that they can be admitted to a hospital that can respond if they test positive. This can prevent in-hospital virus transmission due to childbirth. We need a mechanism premised on the assumption that they (pregnant women) are infected."

    (Japanese original by Atsuko Ota and Hitomi Takai, Nagoya News Center)

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