The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced an urgent recommendation 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. They noted that 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. 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.
A study that was released this week also revealed that getting vaccinated benefits your unborn baby as well.
Pregnant women who get an mRNA vaccine pass high levels of protective antibodies onto their babies, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology – Maternal Fetal Medicine report found.
For the study, doctors analyzed umbilical cord blood from 36 newborns whose mothers had received at least one dose of an mRNA vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna. All 36 babies had high levels of antibodies that target the spike protein on the surface of the virus – and all of the antibodies could be traced to the mothers’ vaccinations.
The findings indicate that “the antibodies that the mother is building to the vaccine are crossing the placenta and that’s likely to confer benefits for the infant after it’s born,” said co-author Dr. Ashley Roman of NYU Langone Health in New York City.
“We don’t know how long those antibodies stick around in the baby,” Roman added. “But the presence of these antibodies in the cord blood, which is the fetus’ blood, indicates that the baby also has potential to derive benefit from maternal vaccination.”