Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Pregnancy Health Alert: COVID-19 Vaccine is Strongly Recommended

Image of Pregnant women gets the COVID-19 vaccine. Click to open a larger version of the image. 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...

Join Us!! Fourth COVID-19 Townhall Update with Lt. Col. Matthew T. Swingholm!

Article
4/27/2021
Fourth MHS Town Hall announcement with image of Lt. Col. Matthew T. Swingholm, discussing the Critical Need for Blood Donations, Wednesday, April 28 at 2 p.m. ET

Join us for the MHS' Fourth COVID-19 Townhall Update with Lt. Col. Matthew T. Swingholm

Recommended Content:

Armed Services Blood Program | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

From coast to coast, Navy personnel helping stop COVID-19 spread

Article
4/26/2021
Military personnel wearing face mask getting people ready for the COVID-19 vaccine

From coast to coast, Navy Medicine personnel are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

DHA’s immunization health care specialists support vaccine rollout

Article
4/26/2021
Image of military personnel getting COVID-19 vaccines ready. Click to open a larger version of the image.

The Defense Health Agency’s Immunization Health Care Division specialists were instrumental in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccines to Department of Defense military medical treatment facilities around the world.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

DHA Appointing Portal simplifies signing up for COVID-19 vaccination

Article
4/23/2021
Image of military health personnel wearing a face mask scheduling COVID-19 vaccine shots. Click to open a larger version of the image.

A new online and easy-to-use COVID-19 vaccine appointment portal is rolling out around the world at Military Treatment Facilities. It needs some tweaking on the admin end, users say.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Health Innovation Toolkit

Clinic doors open wide for those wanting COVID-19 vaccine

Article
4/21/2021
Military personnel administering the COVID-19 vaccine

All eligible and authorized Department of Defense personnel can now get a COVID-19 vaccine if they want one.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Laboratory professionals play important role in fight against COVID-19

Article
4/21/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask prepares COVID-19 test samples

Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 18-24, recognizes the behind-the-scenes work laboratorians do to generate clinical lab results and, ultimately, guide the courses of treatment for patients.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Tanker medics from McConnell AFB are fighting COVID-19 in St. Paul

Article
4/20/2021
Military health personnel wearing face masks hugging

Tanker Medics from McConnell Air Force Base travel to Minnesota to help fight COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Appenzeller emphasizes: Get COVID-19 vaccine, no matter where

Article
4/16/2021
Military personnel explaining forensic equipment

The DHA’s Combat Support assistant director had some direct and encouraging words about the military’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout to date.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Join Us!! Third COVID-19 Townhall Update with Major General George Appenzeller!

Article
4/13/2021
MHS and Military OneSource COVID-19 Townhall, with Major General (Dr.) George N. Appenzeller.  Wednesday, 14 April, 1 PM ET

Join us for the MHS' Third COVID-19 Townhall with Major General George Appenzeller

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Navy Pediatrician Rises from Humble Beginnings to Make History

Article
4/13/2021
Miliary health personnel wearing face mask bumping elbows

Navy Capt. (Dr.) Lynelle Boamah confidently stands with feet firmly planted atop two recent significant months.

Recommended Content:

Women's Health | Paving the Way for African Americans in Military Medicine: A Look Across Time

DOD surpasses 2 million COVID-19 vaccines worldwide

Article
4/9/2021
Military health personnel wearing a face mask and a face shield giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The DOD hit the 2 million mark for vaccinations worldwide just a month after the 1 million milestone.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Public health remains an integral part in the fight against COVID

Article
4/9/2021
Infographic featuring health personnel wearing face shields and mask with "National Public Health Week" across the top of the picture

The pandemic has highlighted a need to provide more advanced training on infection prevention and control.

Recommended Content:

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Telemedicine advances put to the test during pandemic

Article
4/1/2021
Uniformed service member stands behind wall of computer screens

COVID-19 has led to the need for physical distancing and has overwhelmed the capacities of health systems, compelling many to adopt telehealth solutions.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Research and Innovation | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Health Innovation Toolkit

BAMC Women's History Month honors women past and present

Article
3/31/2021
Three military personnel, wearing masks, standing on a stage and holding an award

Women will always play a critical role within our military.

Recommended Content:

Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month | April | Women's Health

Lovell FHCC staff steps up to create formidable COVID-19 team

Article
3/30/2021
Military health personnel preparing to administer the COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccination effort at the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, Illinois, has brought out the best in staff.

Recommended Content:

MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | MHS Toolkits and Branding Guidance | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 61 - 75 Page 5 of 13

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.