ST. LOUIS ( -- The pandemic has uprooted life as we know it, both outside and inside our homes. For a local woman, the pandemic has infiltrated all aspects of her life; As a nurse treating COVID-19 patients, at home with an infected husband and later getting the virus herself while pregnant. The virus eventually caused blood clots that led to her baby's death.   

Vanessa Alfermann of Franklin County is one of many. Doctors at Mercy Hospital said they’re seeing incredibly high admission rates of unvaccinated pregnant women in the hospital with complications.

Alfermann said she contracted COVID-19 shortly after her husband in November of 2020, before vaccines were available.

Alfermann is a nurse at Missouri Baptist in Sullivan and said she’s accustomed to treating COVID-19 patients and knew of the harmful effects it could have early on. The expecting mother recovered from an otherwise mild case of the coronavirus – but weeks later, back pain and cramping set in.

“About 1:30 on the 24th of November I woke up and realized I was in labor,” Alfermann said. “I just realized this isn’t just spasms or something not to worry about. It was definitely labor. I realized something bad was going on.”

Alfermann rushed to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis and gave birth at just 22 weeks. Doctors said COVID-19 caused a blood clot to form on her placenta, that eventually erupted. Alfermann had only seconds with her son, Axel, before he passed away.

“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,” Alfermann said.

As a healthcare worker, Alfermann was one of the first to be eligible to get the vaccine a few weeks after her son’s death.

“If I could have gotten my vaccine [earlier] I would have done it. I would have done everything I could not to get COVID,” Alfermann said.

Dr. Asal Fathian, a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist at Mercy Hospital said unvaccinated women have a higher risk of complications. In some cases, premature births, miscarriages and still births have happened.

“Really the best protection pregnant women have against these complications is getting vaccinated,” Fathian said. “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.”

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

Copyright 2021 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

News 4 Reporter

Emma Hogg is a general assignment reporter for News 4 St. Louis

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