As summer comes to a close, there has been an additional tool added to our fight against maternal morbidity -- CDC approval of the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines for pregnant women. As disease incidence remains stubbornly high in Kansas City and across the nation, the pandemic has become a tale of two realities: one for the vaccinated and another for the unvaccinated. Health systems are at a breaking point in meeting the demand for resources, personnel and even bed availability to treat the severe cases that are overwhelmingly occurring among the unvaccinated. Throughout the pandemic, pregnant women have faced a unique worry, inhabiting a gray area of uncertainty about whether the vaccine is safe for them and their babies. This worry becomes even more pronounced with the highly-contagious Delta variant.
The CDC’s approval of the vaccines for use by pregnant women should remove ambiguity and aid in the decision-making process for moms. It has been known for some time that the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women is more severe than on non-pregnant women. The risk of severe illness, preterm birth and even maternal death is higher in comparison. While these adverse outcomes have been known, risk is only part of the equation when considering a decision to vaccinate. The other consideration is reward. The CDC’s studies indicate that a key benefit of vaccination for pregnant women is that antibodies are passed onto the baby during pregnancy, providing some protection against the disease.
In October, Nurture KC is hosting a free flu/COVID-19 vaccination clinic at our office for the families in our Healthy Start program. Offering this direct access to our families, along with the education to make an informed decision, will help keep our families healthy.
Executive Director, Nurture KC