COVID-19 vaccination rates among people who are pregnant show room for improvement, according to CDC report
HealthPartners Institute researcher, who co-authored report, says more vaccine conversations are needed among people who are pregnant, especially those who are younger, Black and Hispanic
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – A new analysis of nearly 136,000 people who are pregnant showed that just 16.3 percent had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy despite evidence of safety and efficacy. The data, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, also show that vaccination rates are lower among younger people who are pregnant and some communities of color.
“This data are telling us that there’s opportunity to increase COVID-19 vaccinations among people who are pregnant and at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 and poor birth outcomes if they contract the virus,” said Malini DeSilva, MD, co-author on the report and investigator at HealthPartners Institute. “COVID-19 vaccines help protect those who are pregnant and they likely provide at least some protection to their babies, too. It’s important that health providers who care for patients who are pregnant have conversations about safety and protection, and hopefully we can increase vaccination rates.”
The report shows that 17 percent of Asian people who are pregnant and 14 percent of white people who are pregnant were completely vaccinated. But, just 7.7 percent of Hispanic people who are pregnant and 3.7 percent of Black people who are pregnant were completely vaccinated. In addition, vaccination coverage was 15.8 percent among pregnant people ages 35 to 49 and 10.9 percent among pregnant people ages 25-34. Meanwhile, vaccination coverage among pregnant people ages 18 to 24 was just 3.1 percent.
The data were collected between Dec. 14, 2020, and May 8, 2021, from eight large health systems across the nation including HealthPartners. These health systems make up the Vaccine Safety Datalink, which conducts post-market vaccine surveillance projects in partnership with the CDC.
Fortunately, the report also showed that vaccine uptake has been increasing steadily among people who are pregnant since the first vaccines were authorized in December. While this reflects the improved supply of vaccines, it may also reflect a growing interest in vaccination now that more data is available validating their safety.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that COVID-19 vaccines prompt a strong immune response in people who are pregnant, and likely provide protective benefits to babies, too. A different study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that the mRNA vaccines do not harm the placenta, more evidence that the vaccines are safe and effective even during pregnancy.
“If you’re pregnant or breast feeding and have questions about getting the COVID vaccine, talk to your care teams,” Dr. DeSilva said. “We have more evidence now about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines than even one month ago. Your provider will help you make informed decisions about vaccination.”
About HealthPartners Institute
HealthPartners Institute is part of HealthPartners, the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. HealthPartners Institute supports this mission through research, education and practice. The Institute annually conducts 400+ research studies and trains 700+ medical residents and fellows and 1,200+ medical and advanced practice students. Its integration with HealthPartners’ hospitals, clinics and health plan strengthens the Institute’s ability to discover and develop evidence-based solutions and translate them into practice. Based in Minneapolis, the Institute’s work impacts care, health and well-being across the region and nation as well as internationally. Visit healthpartnersinstitute.org for more information.