The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an “urgent” health alert Wednesday urging pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine amid an uptick in pregnancy deaths linked to the virus.
The CDC alert strongly recommends women receive the vaccine before or during pregnancy to prevent death, serious illness or complications with their unborn babies.
The agency said 22 pregnant women died of COVID-19 in August, which is the highest monthly death toll amid the pandemic.
According to CDC data, symptomatic pregnant women have a 70 percent chance of increased risk of death compared to women who have a symptomatic case of COVID but are not pregnant.
They also have a more than two-fold increased risk of being admitted to the ICU.
Of the pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 this year, 97 percent of them were unvaccinated, the CDC said, citing data from the COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network.
Currently, only 31 percent of pregnant women are vaccinated, the CDC says.
The CDC’s advisory is directed to those who are currently pregnant, those trying to conceive and those who have just given birth.
“I strongly encourage those who are pregnant or considering pregnancy to talk with their healthcare provider about the protective benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine to keep their babies and themselves safe,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
The CDC had already warned that pregnant women infected with the virus were at higher risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications, including miscarriage and stillbirths.
Data released by the CDC last month showed that 2,500 women had no increased risk of miscarriage if they received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
“CDC recommends that pregnant people should be vaccinated against COVID-19, based on new evidence about the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines,” the agency said in its guidance from August.
“COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future.”