Pregnant women are one of the least vaccinated groups in America and are now facing a wave of Covid hospitalizations.
Only 23 percent of pregnant women in the US have been vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In addition, white expectant mothers are more than twice as likely as black expectant mothers to receive their injections.
As the number of cases and hospitalizations rise due to a wave of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant, many expectant women end up in the hospital.
While pregnant women have always been eligible for the vaccines, they were not universally recommended to get them until recently.
COVID-19 hospitalizations among pregnant women begin to rise as virus hits one of the least vaccinated groups in America (file image)
Only 23% of pregnant women are vaccinated, especially black women have a low vaccination rate of less than 12%
None of us have ever seen such a large amount of really, really sick women,” Dr. Akila Subramaniam, an associate professor in the Birmingham Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the University of Alabama. NBC News.
She reports that the number of pregnant women admitted with the virus has tripled in recent weeks.
The number of cases among the women is logical given their low vaccination coverage.
Less than a quarter of pregnant women have received an injection, with black mothers in particular falling behind — less than 12 percent receive the injections.
At 35.2 percent, Asian pregnant women are most likely to be vaccinated, followed by 26.6 percent of white mothers-to-be and 19.2 percent of Hispanics.
They have been eligible for the vaccine since the first injections were approved in December, although there were caveats.
Unlike the general population, the CDC did not initially give a general recommendation to get the vaccine.
Because of potential concerns about the vaccine’s long-term risks to the mother and unborn child, health officials advised them to talk to their doctor before receiving the injections.
The CDC announced earlier this month that it was confident in data showing the vaccine posed no danger to expectant mothers or their children.
Pregnant women are also more likely to have serious complications from the virus if they contract it.
“A lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to get this virus, how transmissible it is and how, when you’re pregnant, how seriously ill you can get,” said Dr. Brenna Hughes, chief of Duke University Medical Center’s Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, told NBC News.
“Most people who are otherwise young and healthy think they may not be that seriously ill. But we’ve clearly seen that’s not the case.’
Hughes also reports a surge in pregnant women being hospitalized in her ICU with COVID-19.
They also go from feeling good to urgent medical care more quickly.
“Their deterioration is accelerating,” said Dr. Todd Rice, director of Vanderbilt’s ICU in Nashville, Tennessee.
“From a little oxygen they go faster to… [needing] a lot of support.’
The virus can cause long-term harm to the pregnant woman and their child.
A woman who catches the virus at some point during her pregnancy is more likely to give birth prematurely.
If she has an active Covid case while in labour, the woman is at increased risk of dying during birth.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, more than 109,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in pregnant women, including 18,000 hospitalizations and 131 deaths.
Hughes told NBC that pregnant women are at increased risk of complications from the virus because their lungs don’t have the capacity to expand during pregnancy.