Call for parents-to-be in France to have Covid jab to protect newborns

Ten newborns with Covid are currently being looked after in a hospital in Nice. The parents are mostly unvaccinated and have tested positive for the virus

12 August 2021

The doctor said babies with Covid often suffer symptoms such as fever Pic: Sopotnicki / Shutterstock

By Joanna York

A French doctor has called on future parents and couples already with children but expecting another to get vaccinated to protect their very young babies against Covid-19.

Dr Philippe Babe is the deputy head of paediatric A&E in Lenval hospital in Nice, which is currently looking after 10 babies under 12-weeks-old who have tested positive for Covid.

Dr Babe told Nice Matin today (August 12): “Since the start of last week we have noticed a rise in the number of Covid cases among young children and particularly among newborns.

“What we have seen is that mothers and fathers of these little ones are themselves testing positive, and are mostly unvaccinated.”

The doctor said the hospital had not seen a rise in very young Covid patients during previous waves of the virus. “This confirms the fact that today it is a younger population, between 30-40 years old, that are getting Covid. 

“They must get vaccinated,” he said.

As of August 10, more than 45million people in France have received a first dose of the Covid vaccine, equivalent to 67.5% of the population

Vaccination rates are highest among people over 50, with over 84% of people in older age groups having received a first dose.

In the 30-49 age group, 75.4% of people have received one dose and 60% are fully vaccinated.

Dr Babe said that when a very young baby tests positive for Covid, the hospital has to admit them for four to six days to monitor their symptoms. 

“Most of them have a fever,” he said. “And a ten-day-old baby that has a fever, they can’t move, they are not doing well, so we have to look after them.”

Older infants are often able to be sent home, unless they have existing illnesses that make them vulnerable to the virus.

If infant Covid cases continue to rise, Dr Babe said the hospital will have to reorganise in order to manage. This could also be made more difficult due to the number of younger staff testing positive for the virus and not being able to work. 

He said: “Nurses and nursing assistants are generally young people. All our healthcare workers that have tested positive are unvaccinated. That worries us.”

Dr Babe also called on young people, and new parents, to continue social distancing measures.

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