Pregnant women are one of the least vaccinated groups in America and now are suffering a surge in Covid hospitalizations.
What’s more, white mothers-to-be are more than twice as likely as black mothers-to-be to have received their shots.
As cases and hospitalizations rise due to a surge of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant, many expecting women are ending up in the hospital.
While pregnant women were always eligible for the vaccines, they were not universally recommended to receive them until recently.
COVID-19 hospitalizations among pregnant women are beginning to surge as the virus strikes one of the least vaccinated groups in America (file image)
Only 23% of pregnant women are vaccinated, with black women in particular having a low vaccination rate under 12%
None of us has ever seen this magnitude of really, really sick women at one time,’ Dr Akila Subramaniam, an associate professor at the University of Alabama’s Birmingham Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, told NBC News.
She reports that the number of pregnant women being admitted with the virus has tripled in recent weeks.
Case growth among the women makes sense considering their low vaccination rate.
Less than a quarter of pregnant women have received their jabs, with black mothers especially falling behind – with less than 12 percent getting the shots.
At 35.2 percent, Asian pregnant women are most likely to be vaccinated, followed by 26.6 percent of white expecting mothers, and 19.2 percent of Hispanics.
They have been eligible to receive the vaccine since the first shots received authorization in December, though there were caveats.
Unlike the general population, the CDC did not give a blanket recommendation to get the vaccine at first.
Due to potential concerns of the long term risks of the vaccine on the mother and unborn child, health officials advised them to speak with their doctor before getting the shots.
The CDC announced earlier this month that it was confident in data that found the vaccine was not a danger to expecting mothers or their children.
Pregnant women are also more likely to suffer from severe complications from the virus if they contract it.
‘Many people don’t realize how easy it is to get this virus, how transmissible it is, and how, if you are pregnant, how severely ill you can get,’ Dr Brenna Hughes, chief of the Duke University Medical Center’s Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, told NBC News.
‘Most people who are otherwise young and healthy think that they might not be as severely ill. But we have clearly seen that is not the case.’
Hughes reports a surge of pregnant women being hospitalized with COVID-19 at her ICU as well.
They are also quicker to go from feeling fine to needing urgent medical care.
‘Their deterioration is quicker,’ said Dr Todd Rice, director of Vanderbilt’s ICU in Nashville, Tennessee.
‘They go faster from needing a little bit of oxygen to [needing] a lot of support.’
The virus can cause harm to the pregnant woman and their child long term.
A woman who contracts the virus at some point during her pregnancy is more likely to give birth prematurely.
If she has an active Covid case while she is giving birth, the woman is at an increased risk of dying during birth.
Over 109,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported among pregnant women since the pandemic began in March 2020, with 18,000 requiring hospitalization and 131 dying.
Hughes told NBC pregnant women are at an increased risk of complications from the virus because their lungs do not have the came capacity to expand when pregnant.