Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 during pregnancy provides strong protection for both mother and baby, new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC, babies born to mothers who received two doses of the mRNA vaccine during pregnancy are 61 percent less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 in the first six months of life than babies born to women who did not. vaccination during pregnancy. report. These shots are effective whenever mothers-to-be are vaccinated, but are even more protective when given at 21 weeks of pregnancy or later.
CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women, because they have a higher risk of complications if they become infected during pregnancy. The agency says the vaccination is safe and effective for mother and child. In November, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also Recommended boosters for all eligible pregnancies.
The new study, published February 15 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, offers the first real evidence that Vaccinations during pregnancy can also help keep babies safe from viruses. Disease-fighting antibodies produced by vaccination appear to be passed from mother to baby in utero and help protect against severe illness and hospitalization, the study’s authors wrote.
“Today’s news is very welcome, especially in light of the recent increase in hospitalization in very young children,” Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, head of the CDC’s Newborn Outcomes Monitoring and Research Branch, said during a news conference. “Unfortunately, vaccination for infants under six months of age is not currently available, highlighting why vaccination during pregnancy is so important.”
The CDC study was quite small; Researchers examined data from nearly 400 infants under 6 months of age hospitalized across 17 states between July 2021 and January 2022. About half of those infants were hospitalized for COVID- 19. The other babies were hospitalized for other causes and served as a control group. In both groups, the mean age was two months. About 20% of infants have at least one underlying medical condition, and about 20% are born prematurely.
Of infants hospitalized for COVID-19, 84% were born to mothers who were not vaccinated during pregnancy, the CDC found.
Babies born to mothers who were vaccinated during pregnancy have a 61% lower risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19 than babies born to unvaccinated mothers. Vaccination timing also seems to be important. Babies born to mothers who were vaccinated before at least 21 weeks of pregnancy have an 80% lower risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19 than mothers who were not vaccinated; this number drops to 32% for babies born to mothers vaccinated during the first 20 weeks.
However, the CDC has not recommended vaccination at any particular time during pregnancy. Although vaccination later in pregnancy may provide more protection to the baby, pregnant women are more susceptible to severe illness and pregnancy complications if they get an infectionThis also makes it important to be protected as soon as possible, Meaney-Delman said during the press conference.
Vaccination rate in pregnant people has lagged behind the general US population. That could be a backlog from the early days of vaccine deployment, when Little is known about how injections affect pregnant women and fetus. Vaccination rates have increased in recent months, following the release of strong data on the safety and effectiveness of the shots, but “we still have a lot of work to do,” Meaney-Delman said.
New data could help convince expectant mothers. Since children under the age of five are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, the report provides reassuring data for new and prospective parents during an uneasy time.
A panel of experts from the US Food and Drug Administration was scheduled to meet on February 15 to discuss extending Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine authorization to children 6 months to 4 months. age, but that meeting was adjourned while Pfizer collects more data from its ongoing clinical trial. That means babies and toddlers may not be vaccinated for months to come.
However, as new data shows, expectant parents have one way to protect their babies and themselves: get vaccinated during pregnancy.