In heartbreaking news, an unvaccinated Florida mom and nurse who was expecting her second child has died of COVID—and so did her unborn baby. Haley Mulkey Richardson was a labor and delivery nurse in Pensacola, and her family says she was putting off getting vaccinated out of concern for her pregnancy.
"We were just worried that there may be complications from that standpoint with having a baby and once she was pregnant, so she was not vaccinated. I think she would have advocated for it though, knowing this would be the outcome," her husband, Jordan, told WKRG News 5.
Vaccination rates remain low among pregnant women. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), just 23% of pregnant women have received at least one shot. The CDC, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) all encourage pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine, as research shows it's effective for pregnant women while also being safe. Studies show there's no increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects as a result of the vaccine.
The CDC recommends getting vaccinated if you are pregnant or want to get pregnant in the future to stay protected f… https://t.co/6ulyfEAJ4M
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Haley, who had no preexisting conditions aside from pregnancy, contracted the virus at the end of July. Her family tells WKRG that her condition rapidly declined. She was admitted to the hospital in early August at nearly seven months pregnant—after a few days in the hospital, she was told she was going to lose her baby. Her condition continued to decline.
"At some point, they basically told her that we've got to start treating you as if you didn't have a child," Jason Whatley, a family friend, told AL.com. "We've got to do what we can for you because the baby is going to pass anyway."
The CDC recommends that all pregnant women receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Contracting COVID-19 while pregnant carries significant risks for both mothers and infants, including preterm birth. Even those who have been recently pregnant are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo says 10 pregnant women are in her Alabama hospital’s ICU and seven are on a ventilator. All are… https://t.co/MM8oRJrxIS
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Her mother, Julie Mulkey, told AL.com that her daughter was concerned about having an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine. Unfortunately, misinformation about the vaccine and fertility convinced her, ultimately, to not get it.
"And then, of course, with all the negative reporting that has gone on, what was she to believe about what the vaccine would do to reproduction?" her mom explained. "Stuff about that it would destroy a female's eggs and that kind of thing, and she wanted to have her second baby. That made her afraid to get it."
There is no evidence to show that the COVID vaccine affects a woman's fertility.
Richardson's unborn daughter, Ryleigh Beth, died on Aug. 18. Her mom followed on Friday, Aug. 20.
Mulkey and Haley's sister have now received their first vaccine dose because of Haley's death, and are now asking others who remain unvaccinated to do the same.
"I had held off on getting my own shot," Mulkey said. "It's absolutely had a big bearing on our opinion. Watching what my precious daughter went through was indescribably hard."
You can donate to the Richardson family's GoFundMe here.