Israel rocked by COVID death of pregnant 32-year-old who had not been vaccinated


(JTA) — Israel is exhorting pregnant women to be vaccinated against COVID-19 after another otherwise healthy young mother died of the disease.

Osnat Ben-Shitrit was 32 years old and in the third trimester of pregnancy when she was hospitalized and died in Jerusalem this week; her baby also died after being delivered prematurely. Another 50 pregnant women are currently hospitalized in the country, some in serious condition.

Video from Ben-Shitrit’s funeral on Sunday shows several of her four older children crying over her body.

Israeli health officials have been sounding the alarm on the risks of the new disease variants to pregnant women for weeks. But only about 30% of pregnant women have been vaccinated, lower than the overall vaccination rate for adults under 65.

One driver of the disparity could be misinformation about the new vaccines causing miscarriage or infertility, which is rampant on social media and have complicated the vaccine rollout in some Orthodox communities, where motherhood is central to women’s identities.

Ben-Shitrit’s brother told Kan, Israel’s public broadcasting network, that he had operated an anti-vaccination Facebook page before disabling it upon his sister’s death. The social network has said it is cracking down on vaccine misinformation.

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