The CDC is now urging pregnant people to get the COVID-19 vaccine as possible, citing new research that found there was no increased risk of miscarriage in people vaccinated during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Earlier research made similar findings for people vaccinated later in their pregnancies, the New York Times reports. The new CDC advice warns that pregnant people are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and that infection leads to an increased risk of preterm birth. Some studies have also found an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth. "The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement, per USA Today.
The new CDC advice replaces advice that said pregnant people should consider getting vaccinated but didn't go as far as a full recommendation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups also strongly recommend vaccination. The new advice comes as hospitals around the country are seeing a steep rise in pregnant COVID patients, most of them unvaccinated. "This is by far the worst we’ve seen in the pandemic," Dr. Jane Martin, an obstetrician with Ochsner Baptist Medical Center in New Orleans, tells the AP. "It’s disheartening and it’s exhausting. It feels like it doesn’t have to be like this." She says there were a few seriously ill pregnant patients during earlier waves of the pandemic, but over the last week or two, they "have had multiple critically ill pregnant patients admitted" every day. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)