- According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccination rates remain low among pregnant people, with only 18% receiving the dose.
- According to a recent study, women who gave birth while having COVID-19 had “significantly higher rates” of ICU admission, intubation, ventilation, and death.
- According to the CDC, in August alone, 21 pregnant people died of COVID-19.
While new data shows that overall racial disparities in COVID-19 vaccination are improving, federal numbers show that pregnant black people are vaccinated less often than those of other races.
In general, vaccination rates among those who become pregnant have been low, with only 18%. Getting the dosage according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics.
But the rate is even lower among black people: only 15% are fully vaccinated and only 13% have received at least one dose. CDC.
Black women experience disproportionate rates of maternal complications and mortality, and pregnant women are at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, leaving them especially vulnerable without vaccination.
Women who gave birth while having COVID-19 had “significantly higher rates” of ICU admission, intubation, ventilation and death, according to a The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In August alone, 21 pregnant people died of COVID-19, according to CDC.
During a COVID-19 White House briefing on Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Valensky noted the statistics and explained the safety of a vaccine for pregnant women.
Among other racial groups, the reported rates of vaccination among pregnant people are more promising: almost a quarter of Hispanics or Latinos have received the vaccine, a third of Whites, and 45% of Asians – the highest of any racial group.
Indigenous, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander and “other” races were 30% of vaccinated pregnant people.
Scientists have said that it is safe for both mother and baby to take the vaccine at any time while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Responding to a reporter’s question during the briefing, Valensky emphasized the vulnerabilities of pregnant people and their babies, as well as the importance and safety of getting the shot while pregnant.
“We are fortunate to have exceptional safety data with all of these vaccines. We know that pregnant women are at increased risk of serious illness, hospitalization and ventilation. They are also at increased risk for adverse events for their baby ,” He said.
The director said that studies have also shown that vaccine antibodies can also potentially protect the baby.
She pointed to “extraordinarily” low rates of vaccination among pregnant people across the board and extremely low rates among black people.
“It puts them at serious risk of serious illness from COVID-19,” she said. “We have a whole lot of data that demonstrates the enormous benefit of the vaccine and very few safety concerns in fact.”
‘Pregnancy a precious time’
Dr. Pam Oliver, a physician in obstetrics and gynecology and executive vice president at Novant Health in North Carolina, said the lower rate sounds an alarm to build better health care provider relationships with black women.
“As a black woman committed to reducing OB-GYN inequalities, equal access to care, there is a bit of sadness and anxiety,” she said. “What this says is that we have an important hill to climb to gain the trust of black women in general, but especially during pregnancy so that we can really protect them with vaccines.”
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Oliver said many women are faced with misinformation on social media about vaccines and pregnancy, leading to suspicion. To fight misinformation, she said clinicians need to patiently engage with women’s questions, validate their feelings, and then reassure them with science.
“Pregnancy is a precious time. It’s also a time a lot of women dread,” she said. “It’s natural to have questions… So let’s talk about what we know, let’s put that in perspective.”
Oliver also said that exploring other reasons, such as whether black women are delaying prenatal care, is another important step in getting more vaccinations.
Andrea Adlow, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, said the low rates are a more complex expression of systemic racism. She also questioned whether people face barriers to antenatal visits.
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But even if they go for a prenatal appointment, logistical problems like storing the vaccine can make it difficult for physicians to administer the shot on the spot without wasting what’s left in the vial.
Adlow also cited a lack of trust in maternal health care, partly due to the historical . may be due to gynecological abuse on black women, she said, as well as higher rates of black maternal mortality.
“There are many reasons why black women in this country have a complicated relationship with childbirth, and there is some fear about prenatal care, potentially going to hospitals,” she said. “It’s definitely something people bring up.”
Adlow, whose lab conducts research on maternal obesity and fetal development, said trusted community health workers are needed to allay fears in their communities and answer questions “to get caught.”
“We have to do this work with communities of color,” she said. “We need to meet people where they are.”
The racial gap in COVID-19 shots is closing
Officials cited a Kaiser Family Foundation during White House briefing report good released Tuesday that narrowed vaccination disparities between white people and black and Hispanic people.
Among adults surveyed, the foundation said 73% of Hispanics, 70% of black people and 71% of white people reported receiving at least one dose.
Marcela Nunez-Smith, director of the administration’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, noted those rates with similar percentages in the Pew Research Center survey and the CDC’s National Immunization Survey.
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“It’s the result of deliberate work to remove those obstacles, to address those concerns,” Nunez-Smith said. “We have made significant progress in increasing vaccination rates and reducing vaccination disparities. These numbers reflect much more than just the passage of time. They tell the story of all of society’s efforts to get us where we are today.”
After noting the progress, “we know there is still work to be done,” she said.
“We, of course, continue to see new hospitals and COVID deaths that we can prevent,” she said. “We just need to have the strength and commitment to each other…keep fighting and get the job done.”
Blacks and Hispanics also make up larger portions of recent vaccines in the past two weeks than their share of the population. According to Kaiser Foundation AnalysisOf the vaccines administered in the past two weeks, 23% of Hispanics and 14% of black people have received it.
The analysis found, “These recent patterns suggest narrowing racial gaps in vaccination nationally, particularly for Hispanic and Black people, who account for a greater share of recent vaccinations than their share of the total population.” ”