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COVID vaccination while pregnant limits severe cases in infants, CDC says

September 29, 2023 – New data shows that getting a COVID-19 vaccination while pregnant significantly reduces the prospect of a baby needing hospitalization for COVID-19.

The study A CDC study found that the vaccines were 54% effective in protecting infants from hospitalization attributable to COVID-19 in the primary three months of life, and 35% effective in babies aged three to 5 months. Infants may be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting at six months of age.

Infants hospitalized with COVID-19 whose moms were unvaccinated were more prone to need assistance respiration than infants whose moms were vaccinated.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 716 babies hospitalized between March 2022 and May 2023. Of the babies within the study, 377 were hospitalized with COVID-19. Mothers were considered vaccinated in the event that they had received at the least two COVID vaccines, certainly one of which was given while pregnant. All other moms of babies within the study were unvaccinated.

Vaccinated moms pass antibodies against COVID-19 to the fetus through the placenta. The authors noted that a limitation of the study was that previous maternal infections weren't analyzed, including in unvaccinated moms. They also said it is feasible that “infection-induced antibodies may provide some protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations in infants.”

“Maternal vaccination during pregnancy provides some protection against COVID-19-related hospitalizations in infants, particularly in infants less than three months of age,” the authors write. “Expectant mothers should continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and their infants from hospitalization and serious outcomes associated with COVID-19.”

Previous Research has shown that infection with COVID-19 while pregnant increases the chance of premature birth and stillbirth and that pregnant persons are at increased risk of severe disease.

COVID vaccination rates amongst pregnant women range from 16% To 27%in accordance with the CDC. That compares to survey data released by the agency this week showing that 47% of pregnant women reported receiving a flu shot through the past flu season. Of those that had a live birth, 54% reported receiving the Tdap vaccine, which might protect babies from pertussis (sometimes called “whooping cough”).

The skilled group of obstetricians and gynecologists strongly recommends that every one pregnant women get vaccinated against COVID-19 and receive the newest booster shot, adding that the vaccines are secure while pregnant and breastfeeding. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists points out that antibodies from the vaccine are passed from mother to baby across the placenta while pregnant and might also be passed to the child via breast milk.

The researchers wrote that they were unable to investigate the timing of COVID vaccination while pregnant, specific brands or formulations of vaccines, or whether vaccine effectiveness differed against different subvariants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They also noted that the outcomes can have been influenced by “maternal characteristics or protective behaviors” and that the impact of breastfeeding, which can transmit antibodies to a baby, also couldn't be assessed attributable to incomplete data for some moms.