Skip to main content

Military Health System

Pregnancy Health Alert: COVID-19 Vaccine is Strongly Recommended

Image of Pregnant women gets the COVID-19 vaccine. Sandra Murray-Campbell, licensed practical nurse, administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Army Capt. Bryana Fournier , a registered nurse for the Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital emergency department at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Louisiana. DOD and CDC advise all pregnant people, those trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding to get vaccinated against COVID-19 (Photo by: Jean Graves, Regional Health Command Central).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Women's Health

If you are pregnant, recently pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant in the future, you should get the COVID-19 vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised in a recent health advisory.

Pregnant and recently pregnant women with COVID-19 are at increased risk of severe illness, death, and pregnancy complications, studies show.

"Pregnant service members should be vaccinated as part of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of DOD service members directed by the Secretary," according to an Oct. 5 DOD memorandum that aligns with the CDC recommendations. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a mandate that all service members be vaccinated against COVID-19 on Aug. 24.

The recommendation that pregnant or recently pregnant women get vaccinated against COVID-19 is not new, but because of the gravity of the concern, CDC issued the recent health alert, which calls for "urgent action," saying the CDC "strongly recommends COVID-19 vaccination either before or during pregnancy because the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks."

The numbers of Americans who are pregnant and vaccinated fully or previously fully vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is only 31%, according to CDC data.

"All women are encouraged to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before pregnancy," said Dr. Margaret Ryan, medical director of the Defense Health Agency's Immunization Healthcare Division in San Diego, California. "If not vaccinated before pregnancy, they should become vaccine-protected during pregnancy and enroll in CDC's v-safe tracking system."

About 97% of pregnant women hospitalized (either for illness or for labor and delivery) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were unvaccinated.

The DOD and CDC recommendations align with other recommendations from professional medical organizations serving people who are pregnant, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

"A new study shows that patients vaccinated in late pregnancy had no increased risk of delivery problems. Another new study shows that patients vaccinated in early pregnancy appeared to have no increased risk of pregnancy loss," Ryan said.

Death

Symptomatic pregnant women with COVID-19 who are hospitalized have a 70% increased risk of death.

That is the case even though the absolute risk of death is low compared with non-pregnant symptomatic people, according to the CDC.

Pregnancy is independently associated with a three-fold increased risk for ICU admission, a 2.4-fold increased risk for needing extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), and a 1.7-fold increased risk of death due to COVID-19 compared to symptomatic non-pregnant patients, according to new data cited by Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Monica Lutgendorf, chair, Department of Gynecologic Surgery and Obstetrics at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

Pregnant patients with other health risk factors - like obesity, diabetes, heart disorders, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, immunocompromised from organ transplantation, sickle cell disease and smoking, and those older than age 35 - also appear to have "an increased risk of adverse maternal outcomes," Lutgendorf said.

As of Sept. 27, more than 125,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in pregnant women, including more than 22,000 hospitalized cases and 161 deaths.

Pregnant women posing for a picture
Stephanie Faine expecting her first child at Fort Irwin, California, amid the pandemic (Photo by: Janell Ford, Garrison Public Affairs, Fort Irwin, California).

Preterm Birth

Pregnant women with the COVID-19 disease are also at increased risk for preterm birth.

Some preliminary data suggests that COVID-19 increases risk for other adverse pregnancy complications and outcomes, such as preeclampsia (severe high blood pressure), coagulopathy (blood coagulation to clots), and stillbirth, compared with pregnant people without COVID-19.

Risks to Newborn Babies

Furthermore, CDC's alert explained that babies "born to people with COVID-19 are also at increased risk for admission to the neonatal ICU."

"In addition, although rare, pregnant people with COVID-19 can transmit infection to their neonates; among neonates born to women with COVID-19 during pregnancy, 1%-4% of neonates tested were positive" based on polymerase chain technology testing, CDC said.

Breastfeeding

A majority of military doctors agree that women who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should not have any concerns about breastfeeding.

Getting the vaccine while breastfeeding protects the mother and is safe for both the mother and the baby, Ryan said, adding: "Breastfeeding is healthy for babies, and mom's antibodies may be present in breastmilk. Breastfeeding is not an established way for an infant to attain immunity against COVID-19, but breastfeeding is still clearly healthy for babies."

Other CDC Recommendations

Vaccination coverage for pregnant women differs by race and ethnicity, with vaccination uptake being lowest for non-Hispanic Black pregnant women (15.6%), data collected by the agency show.

In addition, "pregnant people should continue to follow all recommended prevention measures" such as mask wearing, hand washing and physical distancing, "and should seek care immediately for any symptoms of COVID-19."

Healthcare providers should have "a low threshold for increased monitoring during pregnancy due to the risk of severe illness."

Pregnant women "should be counseled by health care personnel in alignment with the CDC, ACOG, SMFM, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the recommendations for vaccination," Lutgendorf said.

"Counseling to support the recommendation for vaccination should include data on vaccine efficacy and vaccine safety during pregnancy and lactation," she added.

"Provider counseling has been shown to have a significant positive impact on patient vaccination," she said. The CDC added a strong recommendation from a health care provider is a critical factor in COVID-19 vaccine acceptance.

The CDC also recommends that health care workers remind patients that COVID-19 vaccination is recommended even for those with prior COVID-19 infections.

Eligible pregnant women should also consider a booster dose.

There is currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men, CDC data show.

You also may be interested in...

Uniformed Services University Professor Develops Self-Diagnosis, Treatment Kit for Common Female Infections

Article Around MHS
1/4/2023
USU infographic with Dr. Elizabeth Kostas-Polston

It's a major research advancement in women's health and females serving in the U.S. military may soon have access to it. See how a new, self-diagnosis and self-treatment kit can help deployed women overseas or in austere environments.

Recommended Content:

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences | Research & Innovation | Women's Health

Women's Health Equity is a Real Focus for DOD, Mullen Says

Article
12/27/2022
Military medical personnel at medical examination

Women’s heath equity is fully invested in by DOD’s actions, acting AD for Health Affairs tells a recent podcast.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

Blanchfield Named One of Best Hospitals for Maternity Care

Article Around MHS
12/22/2022
Meternity patients filling out forms

Providing safe, excellent, quality care to patients takes incredible work and dedication - especially when it comes to women's health. Find out what's happening at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital that landed them a top spot on the Best Hospitals for Maternity Care list.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Children's Health

Breast Cancer Reminder: Get Your Annual Screening

Article
12/15/2022
Military personnel in mammogram screening

Annual mammograms are easy to schedule and can detect very small cancers.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | MHS GENESIS

MHS Minute | Nov 2022

Video
12/12/2022
MHS Minute | Nov 2022

The latest MHS Minute focuses on highlights from DHA Director Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place’s final virtual town hall with the workforce, Nov. 16, 2022. The discussion included the agency’s biggest accomplishments over the past three years and the impact of COVID-19 on DHA’s reputation and approach to health care delivery.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

More Inclusive Research Key to Understanding Prevalence of Dementia

Article
12/7/2022
Animated image of brain

Dementia and its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, are cognitive disorders that affect more women than men. Although there are various theories on why, more equitable research is needed.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Psychological Fitness | Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence

Cervical Health Awareness Month

Infographic
12/6/2022
Cervical Health Awareness Month

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, but can be prevented through vaccination and regular screening. Get information on women’s health: https://health.mil/WomensHealth #CervicalHealthAwarenessMonth

Recommended Content:

January | Women's Health

Birth Defects Prevention Month

Infographic
12/6/2022
Birth Defects Prevention Month

Getting enough folic acid in your diet before and during pregnancy is one easy way to help prevent birth defects. Here’s some information from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/index.html

Recommended Content:

January | Women's Health

Military Health System Offers a Variety of Contraceptive Care Services

Article
12/1/2022
military medical personnel demonstrates an intrauterine device

The Military Health System offers ample contraceptive care services to help beneficiaries take control of their health, life, and careers.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Contraceptive Care Q&A | Reproductive Health Q&A | Reproductive Health Toolkit | Walk-In Contraceptive Services Toolkit | Contraceptive Care Toolkit

Introducing Contraceptive Care Clinics

Video
11/23/2022
Introducing Contraceptive Care Clinics

Walk-in contraceptive services are now available at military hospitals and clinics. No referral or appointment is required. Check with your local military hospital or clinic to see if walk-in appointments are available. Learn more at health.mil/womenshealth.

Recommended Content:

Walk-In Contraceptive Services Toolkit | Women's Health | Contraceptive Care Q&A | Contraceptive Care Toolkit | Reproductive Health Toolkit

Colorectal Cancer Screening Age Decreases to 45

Article
11/22/2022
A patient sits in an office with while a health care provider talks to her.

Though the overall death rate from colorectal cancers have been on the decline in recent years, it remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health

U.S. Air Force Provides Information for Aircrew Considering Flying During Their Pregnancy

Article Around MHS
11/14/2022
U.S. Air Force Maj. Molly Sexton conducts pre-flight inspections

In April 2022, the U.S. Air Force issued a clarification of policies pertaining to aircrew during pregnancy. The policy recognized the need to provide aircrew, commanders, and health care professionals greater awareness of and transparency around the process for submission and review of waivers to fly during pregnancy.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health

MHS Minute | October 2022

Video
11/9/2022
MHS Minute | October 2022

This MHS Minute focuses on the contraceptive care services available to service members and beneficiaries. Learn more by visiting: https://tricare.mil/birthcontrol and https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/Total-Force-Fitness/Preventive-Health/Womens-Health/Contraceptive-Care-QnA Access communications products at https://www.health.mil/Military-Health-Topics/MHS-Toolkits/Contraceptive-Care-Toolkit

Recommended Content:

Contraceptive Care Toolkit | Women's Health

Murtha Cancer Center Hosts 2022 Breast Cancer Summit

Article Around MHS
11/7/2022
Military medical personnel performing mammogram

The John P. Murtha Cancer Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center hosted its 2022 Breast Cancer Summit virtually Oct. 26. The summit is held annually during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

Recommended Content:

October | Women's Health | Cancers of the Female Reproductive System

USS Gerald R. Ford’s Commitment to Women’s Health

Article Around MHS
11/2/2022
U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class Cassandra Styles participates in a mass casualty drill

One in eight women will face cancer in their life. Additionally, breast cancer has a 99 percent survival rate if detected in early stages and a 29 percent survival rate if detected late. U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Samuel Douglas, Ford’s surgeon, offers a service in identifying breast cancer in the early stage for women aboard Ford. Douglas’ service is just one of many that Ford provides.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 25
Refine your search
Last Updated: December 01, 2021
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery