S. E. Williams |
With a clear sense of urgency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Health Advisory late last week warning pregnant women of the risks they are taking with their lives and the lives of their unborn children by declining to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Only 31 percent of pregnant women are currently vaccinated against COVID-19. Vaccination rates among these women are highest among Asians at 45.7 percent and lowest among Blacks who have a disappointing vaccination rate of only 15.6 percent.
According to the agency, symptomatic pregnant women have a two-fold increased risk of ICU admission and a 70 percent higher risk of death. This is because pregnant women with COVID-19 are at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes that could include preterm birth, stillbirth, and admission into the ICU of a newborn also infected with COVID-19.
To date, a total of 161 pregnant women nationally have succumbed to COVID-19—including 22 deaths in August alone. In addition, the CDC reports 226 pregnancy losses.
The CDC is urging, “[Those] who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future to prevent serious illness, deaths, and adverse pregnancy outcomes [to get vaccinated].”
Through September 27, there were more than 125,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in pregnant people including more than 22,000 hospitalizations.
“Pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes that could include preterm birth, stillbirth, and admission into the ICU of a newborn also infected with COVID-19,” the CDC reports.
New data released by the CDC in mid-August assessed vaccinations taken early in pregnancy and did not find an increased risk of miscarriage among nearly 2,500 pregnant women who received a COVID-19 vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Miscarriage typically occurs in about 11 to 16 percent of pregnancies, and this study found miscarriage rates after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine were around 13 percent—like the expected rate of miscarriage in the general population.
This report came on the heels of previously released data that did not find any safety concerns for pregnant mothers who were vaccinated late in pregnancy nor were there safety concerns for their babies.
“Pregnancy can be both a special time and also a stressful time—and pregnancy during a pandemic is an added concern for families,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky.
“I strongly encourage those who are pregnant or considering pregnancy to talk with their healthcare provider about the protective benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine to keep their babies and themselves safe.”