At least eight pregnant Mississippi women have died from COVID-19 since late July — none of them fully vaccinated — officials said, in just two months from the state’s pandemic. Inspiring medical leaders to more than double down and deliver this message:
We have known for a long time that COVID-19 puts pregnant women at greater risk for serious illness. And the highly contagious delta variant spiking case counts what expectant moms need to know Vaccines are recommended for them.
“Please get vaccinated,” state medical officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, said addressed the topic at one of two news conferences this month. “You have to protect yourself; you have to protect your child.”
Mississippi’s situation is not unique, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says COVID-19 deaths among pregnant women in the US ticked up in August. But health officials at Magnolia State have been particularly vocal about it.
Dobbs said Thursday that eight pregnant women had died of COVID-19 in Mississippi since July 25, bringing the state’s pandemic total to 15.
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Dobbs said 15 were between the ages of 23 and 40, none had been fully vaccinated, and only one had been partially vaccinated.
At least 12 fetuses survived, often via emergency C-section, and some were severely premature, said Dr. J. Martin Tucker, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He talked about the 12 cases in which his system was involved; Information about the other three cases was not available.
Mississippi also 72 . analyzing information on stillbirth – Fetal death after 20 weeks in the womb – which has affected COVID-infected pregnant women in the state since the pandemic began, Dobbs said. This appears to be twice the normal stillbirth rate.
In all this, Mississippi health officials are calling on pregnant women to get vaccinated — and insisting that the CDC and others are now totally recommend The state’s number of daily cases reached its highest level this summer after the highly contagious Delta variant – allowing pregnant women to be vaccinated at any stage of pregnancy.
And the state health department says some shot-givers may not have helped the cause: Dobbs said some pharmacies have declined requests from expectant mothers for vaccinations. In response to this, the Health Department had issued a standing order last week to vaccinate pregnant patients, he said.
Dobbs said, the order reassures pharmacies that “it’s OK and recommended for pregnant women to get vaccinated at any stage of pregnancy.”
Mississippi still lags behind the entire nation in vaccinations: 41.7% of the state’s population was fully vaccinated as of Thursday, compared to 54.2% of the US population, according to the CDC.
In the US, only 25.1% of pregnant women aged 18 to 49 had received at least one dose of the vaccine during their pregnancy as of September 11. according to CDC.
“We can do better than that, and we should do better,” Tucker said.
CDC says pregnant women have died of COVID-19
Nationally, 155 deaths of pregnant women with confirmed laboratory evidence of COVID-19 were reported to the CDC since the start of the pandemic through monday.
However, because only about a third of case reports include information about pregnancy status and because it takes two to four weeks to confirm a COVID-19 case in a pregnant woman and report it to the CDC, that number is one. The undercount is there, CDC spokesman Scott Pauley wrote in an email to CNN.
The frequency of these deaths can tick up on a national scale. The CDC received reports of 15 deaths of pregnant people with COVID-19 in August as of last week — the highest number reported to the agency in a month, Pauley wrote. The August numbers may increase due to delayed reports.
The CDC does not break down these deaths by state due to low overall numbers and privacy concerns. It is also not known how many of the 155 people were not vaccinated, Pauli wrote.
Risks of COVID-19 for pregnant women
Pregnant women are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women – and after being hospitalized, placed in intensive care units, placed on mechanical ventilation, and death, Tucker told CNN in an interview last week.
As for why, Dobbs pointed to changes in pregnant women’s physiology and immune responses, and noted other diseases that generally put pregnant women at greater risk.
He said the delta variant may present a more obvious challenge, given its higher viral load and increased transmissibility.
“We’re still early in our analysis of what’s going on with Delta, but … Delta is different, and Delta is deadly, and we have the tools to prevent hospitalizations and deaths,” said Prevention including vaccination and monoclonal antibodies for treatment, he said.
The CDC’s Paule said vaccination for pregnant women is “more urgent than ever,” because “the prevalence of the highly contagious delta variant has increased, there is a lack of vaccines among pregnant people, and the risk of serious illness and pregnancy-related complications has increased.” has increased.” -19 infection in pregnant people.”
CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant women
As health officials push for pregnant women to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, they remind them that last month groups including the CDC COVID-19 vaccine recommendation for pregnant women strengthened.
The CDC now says outright that they should get the shot based on the latest safety data. Previously, the guidance was vague: that pregnant people”can do“Get the vaccine.
“COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years of age and older, including those who are pregnant, breast-feeding, currently trying to become pregnant, or may get pregnant in the future.” new guidance reads.
“There is increasing evidence about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy. These data suggest that the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy,” CDC adds to updated guidance.
In late July, ACOG and another leading organization that represents obstetricians and gynecologists also recommended that anyone who is pregnant should be vaccinated against COVID-19.
ACOG and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine said their recommendations were based on safety evidence from thousands of pregnant women.
Studies show vaccine is safe and effective in pregnant women
The CDC said in August that a new analysis of information from its V-Safe Database, used to track vaccine side effects and safety, was found to have no increased risk for miscarriage in people who received either Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna coronavirus vaccines before 20 weeks of pregnancy. For those who were vaccinated late in pregnancy, there were no safety concerns — for themselves or their babies.
The miscarriage rate among vaccinated pregnant women was about 13%, which is consistent with the rate that would be expected In unvaccinated pregnant women, Sasha Ellington, team lead for emergency preparedness and response in the CDC’s Department of Reproductive Health, told CNN on Aug. 11. In response to the myth that the vaccine can cause fertility issues, she said, “There is no data to indicate that the vaccine has any effect on fertility.”
In a separate analysis, Dr Alice Kharbanda of the HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis and her colleagues said they looked at different CDC data and included that COVID-19 vaccines do not increase the risk of miscarriage.
They looked at data from eight health systems across the US covering 105,000 pregnancies through June. They found that women who had a miscarriage had no chance of being vaccinated. The findings were similar whether women received the vaccine from Pfizer or Moderna, they said in a September letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
He said too few pregnant women have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be able to assess the risk.
In Israel, a separate study published this month COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be as effective at protecting pregnant women as any other.
Israeli researchers’ study of thousands of pregnant women showed that those who were fully vaccinated with Pfizer’s vaccine from December 20 to June 3 were 97% protected against symptomatic infection, compared to the general population at that time. same rate, they Reported in the journal Nature Medicine. The study was not included at the time the highly infectious delta variant became widespread.