(ABC4) – Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated pregnant women, federal health officials have issued an urgent healthy advisory strongly recommending this group of Americans to get the vaccine.
“It’s really scary to see these patients gasping for air really trying to get better to have this happy outcome with their babies and their deliveries,” Dr. Yvette Cordova with Jackson Health Maternal-Fetal Medicine tells NewsNation. Some women are even dying before they get to see or hold their newborns. In Mississippi, Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer, said they’ve lost eight mothers in the last four weeks.
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the health advisory, strongly recommending those who are pregnant, recently pregnant, who are trying to become pregnant, or who may become pregnant in the future should get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the advisory, “the benefits of vaccination for both pregnant persons and their fetus or infant outweigh known or potential risks.”
Data shows only 31% of pregnant people have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the CDC explains, with vaccination rates varying by race and ethnicity. Vaccination rates are highest among Asian people who are pregnant at 45.7% but lower among Hispanic or Latino pregnant people at 25% and lowest among Black pregnant people at 15.6%.
Through Monday, the CDC reports there were more than 125,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in pregnant people. That includes more than 22,000 hospitalized and 161 deaths. Of those, 22 deaths occurred in the month of August alone.
The CDC reports cases of COVID-19 in symptomatic, pregnant people have a two-fold risk of being admitted into intensive care and a 70% increased risk of death. Those who are pregnant and have COVID-19 are also at an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes including preterm birth, stillbirth, and admission into the ICU of a newborn also infected with COVID-19.
Among those pregnant people who got COVID-19 is Melissa Ceden-Yo. She is now the happy and relieved mother of a new 10-pound, 2-ounce baby boy named Wyatt James. She tells NewNation she regrets not being vaccinated. Not so long ago, she wasn’t sure if either she or her baby would live to see this day.
After two miscarriages, when Ceden-Yo got pregnant this time, she said she was reluctant to put anything in her body that might harm the baby.
“I had not been vaccinated because I was worried about what was in the vaccine and how it would affect the baby and myself and I just wasn’t sure,” she explained in a video she shared to her “mommy group.” At 25 weeks, when she got COVID-19, she ended up in the hospital for six days.
“I ended up pumping my body and therefore the baby with everything from Tylenol, Robitussin, steroids — while I was in the hospital — anti-viral, anti clot, albuterol,” Ceden-Yo said. Now, she wishes she’d taken that advice. “If I could go back and do it again, I would have gotten vaccinated, the first minute it was available for me.”
Doctors said baby Wyatt is healthy and shows no ill effects of Ceden-Yo having had COVID-19 during pregnancy. Ceden-Yo says she plans to get vaccinated as soon as she’s able.