WASHINGTON - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an urgent advisory Wednesday "strongly" recommending that pregnant people and those who want to become pregnant get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC said it "strongly recommends" COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because "the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks."
The CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccination for all people aged 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to get pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future. The CDC said its recommendations align with those from professional medical organizations serving people who are pregnant.
As of Sept. 27, more than 125,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in pregnant people, including more than 22,000 hospitalized cases and 161 deaths.
A pregnant woman holds her belly on September 27, 2016 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
The CDC said numerous studies have provided evidence of both the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy and have shown "the benefits of vaccination for both pregnant persons and their fetus/infant outweigh known or potential risks."
The CDC noted that pregnant and recently pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk for severe illness when compared with non-pregnant people. Severe illness includes illness that requires hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation or illness that results in death.
Pregnant people with COVID-19 are also at increased risk for preterm birth and some data suggest an increased risk for other adverse pregnancy complications and outcomes, such as preeclampsia, coagulopathy and stillbirth, compared with pregnant people without COVID-19, according to the agency.
"Getting a COVID-19 vaccine can prevent severe illness, death, and pregnancy complications related to COVID-19," the CDC wrote in its report.
The highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in pregnant people in a single month of the pandemic was reported in August. But despite the known risks of COVID-19, only 31% of pregnant people were fully vaccinated before or during their pregnancy as of Sept. 18.
"Healthcare providers should communicate the risks of COVID-19, the benefits of vaccination, and information on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy," the CDC continued. "Healthcare providers should strongly recommend that people who are pregnant, recently pregnant (including those who are lactating), who are trying to become pregnant now, or who might become pregnant in the future receive one of the authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible."
But this isn’t the first time the CDC has urged pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The director of the CDC said in April the agency recommended pregnant women receive a COVID-19 vaccination after preliminary data showed no safety concerns.
"No safety concerns were observed for people vaccinated in the third trimester or safety concerns for their babies. As such, CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the COVID-19 vaccine," Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, said in a press briefing at the time.
A corresponding CDC study, published in the "New England Journal of Medicine," found the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines "do not indicate any obvious safety signals with respect to pregnancy."
Several other studies on the effects of COVID-19 illness on those who are pregnant indicate that the virus can take a severe toll on both mothers and their newborns.
One large study in November involving hundreds of women around the world suggested that those who get COVID-19 during pregnancy have higher risks for death, the need for intensive care, preterm birth and other complications. The research was published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics."
Currently, 77.1% of adults have at least one dose of the vaccine and 66.7% are fully vaccinated, as the Biden administration continues its relentless effort to get Americans vaccinated against infection.
This is a developing story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.