CDC Data - An increase of 37 deaths since our last check on Aug. 12th, 2021
#16,223Influenza pandemics have a long history of exacting a heavy toll on pregnant women and their unborn children (see 2009's Pregnancy & Flu: A Bad Combination), which is why the CDC has long recommended the flu vaccine for pregnant women.
Not surprisingly, our current Coronavirus pandemic has had a similar impact, with at least 161 deaths reported among pregnant women. I say `at least', since the CDC cautions that their data is far from complete.
Six weeks ago the CDC updated their recommendations for COVID vaccines for pregnant women, or those who are planning to become pregnant, but the uptake of vaccine among this cohort remains low. According to the CDC:
Data from the COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET) in 2021 indicate that approximately 97% of pregnant people hospitalized (either for illness or for labor and delivery) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were unvaccinated.2
Vaccine hesitancy among expecting parents is not unusual - particularly given the amount of anti-vaccine rhetoric online - but scare tactics aside, we continue to see the real-world impact of COVID infection on pregnant women.
With less than 1/3rd of pregnant Americans fully vaccinated against COVID, yesterday the CDC issued a HAN Health Advisory, which strongly urges all pregnant women to get the COVID vaccine, along with a media release (see CDC Statement on Pregnancy Health Advisory).
The CDC health advisory strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination for both pregnant persons and their fetus or infant outweigh known or potential risks. Additionally, the advisory calls on health departments and clinicians to educate pregnant people on the benefits of vaccination and the safety of recommended vaccines.
Some excerpts from the HAN Advisory follow. Click the link to read it in its entirety.
Distributed via the CDC Health Alert Network
September 29, 2021, 12:00 PM ET
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends urgent action to increase Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination among people 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. CDC strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks.
As of September 27, 2021, more than 125,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in pregnant people, including more than 22,000 hospitalized cases and 161 deaths.1 The highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in pregnant people (n=22) in a single month of the pandemic was reported in August 2021. Data from the COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (COVID-NET) in 2021 indicate that approximately 97% of pregnant people hospitalized (either for illness or for labor and delivery) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were unvaccinated.2
In addition to the risks of severe illness and death for pregnant and recently pregnant people, there is an increased risk for adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, including preterm birth and admission of their neonate(s) to an intensive care unit (ICU). Other adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as stillbirth, have been reported. Despite the known risks of COVID-19, as of September 18, 2021, 31.0% of pregnant people were fully vaccinated before or during their pregnancy.3 In addition, there are racial and ethnic disparities in vaccination coverage for pregnant people.
Healthcare providers should communicate the risks of COVID-19, the benefits of vaccination, and information on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy. Healthcare providers should strongly recommend that people 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 receive one of the authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy, the CDC maintains the following website:
COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding
Updated Aug. 11, 2021
What You Need to Know
- COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
- Evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy has been growing. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.
- There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.
- Pregnant and recently pregnant people are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with non-pregnant people.
- Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can protect you from severe illness from COVID-19.