Scary Mommy and FatCamera/Getty
I hate to always be the one writing about depressing shit with the COVID, but I wouldn’t have to if folks would just act right, wear a fucking mask, and get vaccinated already. And yes, I mean pregnant people, too. Do people really think Delta is just the airline?
Last Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implored all pregnant people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Thanks to the low vaccination rates of pregnant folks (only 23% have received one vaccine dose), hospitals in our country’s hotspots are seeing a surge in hospitalizations for severe COVID cases among unvaccinated expectant people.
(Here’s me side-eyeing Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Texas AGAIN. For ostensibly pro-life states, y’all sure don’t give a fuck about dying pregnant women — but let’s be real, pro-lifers never have.)
According to the CDC, approximately 105,000 pregnant women in the U.S. have contracted COVID and almost 18,000 (17% — almost 1 in 5) have been hospitalized. About 25% of those hospitalized pregnant women have had to receive intensive care and 124 died.
“CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in the August 11 statement. “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.”
COVID vaccine safer than contracting COVID while pregnant
The fact that I have to write a sentence such as this infuriates me.
Like, holy fucking shit, Batman. Why does the CDC have to urge pregnant women to get vaccinated? No, seriously. Actual question. (But also, hasn’t that been the real question these past six months or so since the vaccines have been made available?)
The preponderance of evidence clearly shows that the COVID-19 vaccine is safer for you to get while pregnant than actually contracting COVID — especially given that the Delta variant is 60% more contagious than the original and can possibly cause more severe symptoms.
Why pregnant people should get the COVID vaccine
If infected as a pregnant person, you have a higher risk of going into intensive care, being put on ventilation or life support, and dying. (You know, in case the first two aren’t enough of a deterrent.) Though your overall risk of dying is still low, you’re also more likely to give premature birth — which presents a whole different slew of problems for your unborn child like heart, breathing, or chronic health issues for the rest of their lives.
But even if you’re certain you can make it through COVID relatively unscathed, consider that many newborn babies have gotten sick with COVID after birth — passed on by their unvaccinated mother. That’s because the immune systems of infants and babies under 1-years-old are not fully developed and their airways are smaller.
Pregnancy dampens your immune system so that your body doesn’t attack your growing baby (which, technically is a parasite) and also reduces your lung capacity. These changes — among others — can make pregnant people particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Even without COVID, pregnant women of color — especially Black and Hispanic women — have higher risk pregnancies due to increased health care and economic inequities.
Consider that in a June CDC report, about 16% of pregnant women were fully vaccinated and Black and Hispanic women or women 18 to 24 were at a vaccination rate of 6% to 12% — far lower than the general U.S. population at 50% (also, really way too fucking low for my liking).
COVID vaccine is safe for those who are pregnant
The early rumors spreading about how the vaccine would affect fertility or the fetus have been debunked but the fear still remains. Except, now, instead of being afraid of the very real risk to their health — pregnant women are afraid of actual fake news.
Leading health organizations recommend the COVID vaccine during pregnancy
Prior to last Wednesday, the official CDC guidance left the decision to get the COVID vaccine up to the individual pregnant people themselves. Now, the CDC is urging anyone who is pregnant to get vaccinated as soon as possible due to the quick rise of the Delta variant.
Plus, it was only July 30 that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) advised health providers to “enthusiastically recommend vaccination” to pregnant people.
There is enough data now on how the COVID vaccine affects pregnant people
Despite earlier concerns that there wasn’t enough data to ensure the safety of the mother and baby because the original clinical trials for the COVID vaccine were not conducted on pregnant women, that is no longer the case. In their statement, ACOG and SMFM said their latest recommendation matches the “evidence demonstrating the safe use of the COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy from tens of thousands of reporting individuals over the last several months, as well as the current low vaccination rates and concerning increase in cases.”
In other words, real-world data from tens of thousands of women show that the vaccines are not only safe for you to receive — it may also confer some protection to your newborn.
No increased risk of miscarriage
From the current data, the CDC did not find an increased risk of miscarriage out of approximately 2,500 pregnant women who received the mRNA COVID vaccine (Moderna and Pfizer) before 20 weeks pregnancy. The percentage of miscarriages among the women who received the vaccine was 13% — which was in line with the rate of miscarriage among the general population at 11% to 16%.
No increased risk to mother or baby
Furthermore, there is no evidence that the COVID vaccine increases risk to the mother or the baby in pregnancy according to the initial results of a published New England Journal of Medicine study of 35,000 pregnant women from December 2020 to February 2021
Look, I get it. When you’re pregnant (and I should know — I was pregnant four times), you’re a little more careful about what you put into your body. The last thing any pregnant person wants is to do something that can harm their baby. But you know what’s worse? Dying of a preventable disease and not being able to see your baby grow.
If you are pregnant, thinking of getting pregnant, or recently had a baby — please get your COVID vaccine. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.