A health worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to a pregnant woman at Clalit Health Services, in Tel Aviv on January 23, 2021. Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images
The CDC is issuing an urgent health advisory to encourage more vaccinations of pregnant people.
People who get COVID-19 during pregnancy have a two-fold risk of admission into the ICU and a 70% increased risk of death, according to the CDC.
In August, 22 pregnant people died from COVID-19, CDC data say.
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Amidst an uptick in the number of pregnant people dying from COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday issued an urgent health advisory to doctors, public health leaders, and babymakers across the country – urging more vaccinations of pregnant people to protect the lives of those who are or may become pregnant, and to keep their fetuses safe and healthy too.
The advisory comes on the heels of the deadliest month of the pandemic for pregnant people yet. In August, at least 22 pregnant people died from COVID-19 in the US, and almost all of the pregnant people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in 2021 so far have been unvaccinated (97%).
The CDC strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy, yet only around 1 in 3 pregnant people nationwide are vaccinated right now.
“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,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement issued alongside the Health Alert Network bulletin.
The CDC’s advice to get vaccinated also extends to those who have been recently pregnant and are now lactating, those who are trying to become pregnant, and others who might become pregnant some day.
A 70% increased risk of death for pregnant people who catch COVID-19
The CDC says pregnant people who catch a symptomatic case of COVID-19 have a two-fold risk of admission to intensive care, and a 70% increased risk of death, compared to those who are not expecting.
Despite that, only about a third (31%) of pregnant people have been vaccinated, with percentages varying widely across ethnic groups, from 45.7% of Asians, to 15.6% of Black people who are pregnant.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky at IDWeek 2021
Misinformation about the vaccines being tied to infertility has been rampant during the pandemic. The truth is that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people who are – or who want to become – pregnant, and the benefits of vaccination to pregnant people (and their inseminators) outweigh potential risks.
As of Monday, more than 22,000 pregnant people have been hospitalized and 161 have died of COVID-19 during the pandemic, according to CDC estimates.
Getting vaccinated can help prevent many infections among pregnant people entirely. According to one Israeli study conducted in the spring of 2021, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine lowered the risk of infection by 78% among more than 7,500 pregnant women.
And vaccinating pregnant people isn’t just good for the adults in the room. Many studies have also shown that newborn babies can benefit from their mother’s vaccination, deriving COVID-fighting antibodies in the womb that the little ones then carry with them after birth.
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