Since the COVID19 pandemic began, health officials have reported more than 125,000 cases and at least 161 deaths of pregnant women from COVID-19 in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And over the past several months, hospitals and doctors in areas with high case numbers have also reported a sharp increase in the number of severely ill pregnant women.
With just 31% of pregnant women nationwide vaccinated, the CDC issued an urgent advisory on September 29th recommending that all pregnant people get the shots. The agency cautioned that COVID-19 in pregnancy can cause preterm birth and other adverse outcomes, and that stillbirths have been reported, but those cases are exceedingly rare.
The Associated Press profiled two new mothers who each initially rejected the vaccines. Amanda Harrison of Phenix City, Alabama, was 29 weeks pregnant and unvaccinated when she got sick with COVID-19 in August. Harrison initially ignored her “mild” symptoms and delayed care, but soon was intubated and flown to a hospital in Birmingham where doctors delivered her baby, Lake, two months early and put Harrison on life support.
I got my first two doses of the Pfizer covid vaccine knowing that I would soon try to get pregnant. Today at 28 weeks pregnant I got my booster to keep me and my growing baby healthy. Covid is more severe in pregnant women and vaccines are safe in pregnancy! 💉💪🤰🏼 pic.twitter.com/XSetdo6jQ6
— Colleen Farrell, MD (@colleenmfarrell) October 13, 2021
In another case, Kyndal Nipper of Columbus, Georgia, had only a brief bout with COVID-19, but a far more tragic outcome. She was weeks away from giving birth in July when she lost her baby, a boy she and her husband planned to name Jack. Both women are sharing their stories in an attempt to persuade pregnant women to get COVID-19 vaccinations to protect themselves and their babies. Their warnings come amid a sharp increase in the number of severely ill pregnant women that led to 22 pregnant women dying from COVID in August, a one-month record.
#COVID19 has a much harder time spreading in a highly vaccinated population. When more people are vaccinated, we’ll all be better protected against the virus. Get vaccinated against COVID-19 now. Find a vaccine near you by visiting https://t.co/U6bZ3HQd3P.
— CDC (@CDCgov) October 18, 2021
The maternal-fetal medicine division of the University of Alabama at Birmingham saw a marked rise in the number of critically ill pregnant women during July and August. A study there found the delta variant of COVID-19 is associated with increased rates of severe disease in pregnant women and increased rates of preterm birth.
Pregnant women, please get your shot. It is safe.
COVID-19 in Pregnancy Tied to Problems in Mother and Newborn https://t.co/FcY5qwTe84
— Blimi Marcus (@MarcusBlimi) October 19, 2021
The AP recounts the heartbreaking details of Kyndal’s and Amanda’s cases here.