The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an urgent appeal for pregnant mothers to get their COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.
The guidance, released on September 29, came about amid the low vaccination rate among pregnant women. As of the middle of September, only 31 percent of pregnant people have been fully vaccinated, and the CDC has concerns over the rise in COVID-19 cases among pregnant women.
Since the pandemic, 22,000 expecting moms have been hospitalized, and 161 have died due to the deadly virus. Of these deaths, 22 happened in August alone, and about 97 percent of the hospitalized pregnant women are still unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Women with babies in their wombs are more at risk of developing COVID-19 complications, similar to people with underlying health conditions like diabetes or hypertension. As such, the CDC has considered pregnancy as an "underlying health condition" to stress the urgency of protecting the moms in this pandemic.
Complications vs Protection for Moms and Babies
Dr. Dana Meaney Delman, who leads the maternal immunization programs for the CDC, said that the cases have shown that unvaccinated pregnant moms can get very sick with the virus. The risks of contracting COVID-19 could extend to the babies who may be born prematurely as a result of their mother's bout with the illness.
Newborns who are delivered early will likely have underdeveloped lungs and compromised respiratory function. Thus, they will experience breathing issues if they become infected with the virus as well.
The CDC also received reports of stillbirths associated with unvaccinated moms, belying speculations and misinformation that the vaccine shots could lead to this outcome. Studies conducted by the health agency have proven that vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are safe for pregnant women. According to research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology-Maternal-Fetal Medicine, vaccinated pregnant moms pass the antibodies to their babies by as much as 100 percent.
"If babies could be born with antibodies, it could protect them in the first several months of their lives, when they are most vulnerable," Dr. Ashley S. Roman, the head of the study at the NYU Langone Health, said.
Misinformation Still an Uphill Battle
Fake claims and misinformation about the effects of COVID-19 vaccines on pregnancy have driven the low vaccination rate among pregnant mothers. Reports from obstetricians across the U.S. revealed that the fight to curb this problem remains an uphill battle as the mothers still lack a solid understanding of how they could be protected if they get the shots.
Though many moms are apprehensive since the vaccine is new, its technology has been used in other vaccinations, such as the Zika epidemic more than five years ago. Larger clinical trials among vaccinated moms also show that the side effects or adverse reactions are minimal and common.
But doctors are also wary of pushing vaccination to their pregnant patients after some moms said they have stopped visiting their OB for their regular check-ups because they are "tired of hearing about the vaccines."
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