COVID-19 Vaccination for Pregnant People to Prevent Serious Illness, Deaths, and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes from COVID-19
The following article is from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
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.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for pregnant people. CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all people aged 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future.4 CDC recommendations align with those from professional medical organizations serving people who are pregnant, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Accumulating data provide evidence of both the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy. CDC strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy, because the benefits of vaccination for both pregnant persons and their fetus/infant outweigh known or potential risks. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can prevent severe illness, death, and pregnancy complications related to COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccination coverage for pregnant people remains low. Despite recommendations for vaccination, uptake of COVID-19 vaccination by pregnant people has been lower than that of non-pregnant people.5 In addition, vaccination coverage for pregnant people differs by race and ethnicity, with vaccination coverage being lowest for non-Hispanic Black pregnant people (15.6%) as of September 18, 2021.3 Although the proportion of fully vaccinated pregnant people has increased to 31.0% (as of September 18, 2021), the majority of pregnant people remain unprotected against COVID-19, and significant disparities exist in vaccination coverage by race and ethnicity.
Pregnant and recently pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of severe illness, death, and pregnancy complications. Pregnant and recently pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe illness when compared with non-pregnant people. Severe illness includes illness that requires hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), or illness that results in death. Although the absolute risk is low, compared with non-pregnant symptomatic people, symptomatic pregnant people have more than a two-fold increased risk of requiring ICU admission, invasive ventilation, and ECMO, and a 70% increased risk of death.6 Pregnant people with COVID-19 are also at increased risk for preterm birth and some data suggest an increased risk for other adverse pregnancy complications and outcomes, such as preeclampsia, coagulopathy, and stillbirth, compared with pregnant people without COVID-19.7-10 Neonates born to people with COVID-19 are also at increased risk for admission to the neonatal ICU.9-11 In addition, although rare, pregnant people with COVID-19 can transmit infection to their neonates; among neonates born to women with COVID-19 during pregnancy, 1–4% of neonates tested were positive by rRT-PCR.12,13
CDC recommends urgent action to help protect pregnant people and their fetuses/infants. CDC recommends urgent action to accelerate primary vaccination for people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. Efforts should specifically address populations with lower vaccination coverage and use approaches to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. CDC recommends ensuring tailored, culturally responsive, and linguistically appropriate communication of vaccination benefits. In addition, pregnant people should continue to follow all recommended prevention measures and should seek care immediately for any symptoms of COVID-19. Healthcare providers should have a low threshold for increased monitoring during pregnancy due to the risk of severe illness.