Vaccinating During Pregnancy Has Become Even More Urgent As ICU Beds Fill Up

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Following fresh data demonstrating its safety and effectiveness throughout pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reiterating its recommendation that pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine. This proposal comes as doctors across the country report an increase in the number of unvaccinated pregnant women being admitted to hospitals with serious COVID-19 infections. Doctors point out that this group’s low immunization rate is remarkable. According to CDC statistics, only 23% of people who are pregnant had received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine as of July 31.

With the delta variant surging, “All people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future” should get vaccinated against COVID-19, the CDC urges.

Pregnant and struggling with COVID-19: risks of forgoing vaccination

Dr. Alison Cahill, a maternal fetal medicine specialist and professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School, has been urging everyone within earshot to get their vaccinations. She mostly works with pregnant women who are infected with COVID-19 and has witnessed the devastating effects of the coronavirus. Cahill recounts treating an unvaccinated woman who presented with shortness of breath at her hospital. Things quickly deteriorated, she said, and the woman required a large amount of oxygen to survive. She fortunately avoided the need for a preterm birth. She stayed pregnant and was discharged from the hospital after two and a half months. The baby was born healthily, but the lady was sent home with lifelong problems. Cahill claims that if the woman had gotten vaccinated, none of this would have happened. Due to such cases, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), the two primary organizations representing physicians and scientists who specialize in obstetric care, advised on July 30 that all pregnant women acquire the COVID-19 vaccine.

How the delta variant is making things worse

Vaccinating pregnant women has become particularly important in states like Texas, where the highly contagious delta variation now accounts for more than 75% of new cases. In Texas, 44.5 percent of the population is fully immunized, compared to 50.2 percent nationally. Dr. Jessica Ehrig, the obstetrics chief at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, says she’s seen a dramatic increase in the number of pregnant women being hospitalized and intubated as infection rates in the state rise even some have died. She also points out that extreme cases of COVID-19 are harmful to the fetus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised immunizations for pregnant women as the best approach to protect themselves and their unborn children from the coronavirus since April. Although pregnant women were omitted from the first clinical studies of the three COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States, extensive data collected since then has indicated that the shots are safe and efficacious in this population.

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