CDC urges COVID-19 vaccinations for pregnant women amid delta surge

After seeing disturbing numbers of unvaccinated pregnant women become seriously ill with COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging expecting mothers to get vaccinated.

The CDC updated its guidance after reviewing new safety data on 2,500 women who showed no increased risk of miscarriages for those who’d received a Pfizer or Moderna shot prior to their 20th week of pregnancy.

According to CDC data, coronavirus leaves pregnant women at higher risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications like reduced lung capacity and adjustments in the disease-fighting immune system that protect and help the fetus grow.

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And the more infectious delta variant, which is driving the recent surge in cases, has put expecting mothers at even greater risk.

Vaccination rates remain low among pregnant women. Only about 23% of them have received at least one dose of a vaccine, which is why the CDC is urgently trying to get them vaccinated.

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In this photo illustration a medical syringe and vials are seen in front of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) logo. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

"The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people,’’ CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.

Data has been slower to gather for pregnant women. Only a handful of pregnant women took part in the clinical trials that led to the FDA authorization of the COVID-19 vaccines.

And women of child-bearing age didn’t gain access to the vaccines until most of the public did in the spring.

Even so, experts say months of real-world data from thousands of women have strengthened the case for vaccinating pregnant women. Not only did the data indicate the shots were safe, but it also shows the vaccinated mom may pass on some protection to her newborn.

This story was reported from Atlanta.