The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory Wednesday recommending urgent action to increase COVID-19 vaccinations among pregnant people, those trying to get pregnant, and those who might become pregnant.
The CDC says it “strongly recommends” COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks. Officials say the vaccines help prevent serious illness, deaths, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
Additionally, the advisory calls on health departments and clinicians to educate pregnant people on the benefits of vaccination and the safety of recommended vaccines.
CDC data shows that about 97% of pregnant people hospitalized with COVID-19 were unvaccinated.
According to the data, only 31% of pregnant people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and vaccination rates vary markedly by race and ethnicity. The CDC says vaccination coverage is highest among Asian people who are pregnant at 45.7%, but lower among Hispanic or Latino pregnant people at 25%, and lowest among Black pregnant people at 15.6%.
Through Sept. 27, the CDC says there were more than 125,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in pregnant people, including more than 22,000 hospitalized and 161 deaths. Of those, 22 deaths occurred in the month of August alone.
Cases of COVID-19 in symptomatic pregnant people have a two-fold risk of admission into intensive care units and a 70% increased risk of death, officials say. And pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes that could include preterm birth, stillbirth, and a newborn being admitted into an ICU with COVID-19.
CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky issued the following statement regarding the advisory:
"Pregnancy can be both a special time and also a stressful time – and pregnancy during a pandemic is an added concern for families. 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.”