HealthDay News — The country’s leading health agency on Wednesday implored all Americans who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Less than one-third of pregnant women have received COVID-19 vaccines before or during their pregnancies, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number is even lower for Black women, of whom only 15 percent are vaccinated. Last month alone, 22 pregnant women died of COVID-19 in the United States, bringing the total number since the beginning of the pandemic to 161. About 125,000 pregnant women have tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic, including 22,000 who were hospitalized.
The risks are not only to the mothers. The virus also raises the chances of stillbirth and other poor outcomes for infants, according to the CDC. Women who are pregnant and have COVID-19 are also more likely to develop preeclampsia than those who do not have COVID-19, and they are more at risk for preterm birth.
Unfortunately, about 97 percent of those who were infected with the virus when they were hospitalized — for either the illness or for their labor and delivery — were not vaccinated. The absolute risk for severe disease is low, but symptomatic pregnant patients are twice as likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit or require significant interventions, such as mechanical ventilation, the CDC noted. They may also be more likely to die.
“Pregnancy can be both a special time and also a stressful time, and pregnancy during a pandemic is an added concern for families,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., said in the agency’s urgent plea. “I strongly encourage those who are pregnant or considering pregnancy to talk with their health care provider about the protective benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine to keep their babies and themselves safe.”