Pregnant Women Urged to Get the COVID Bivalent Booster
Intermountain Healthcare experts say when pregnant women are not fully vaccinated and have COVID, they’re at increased risk for hospitalization and fetal complications
Salt Lake City, UT (PRUnderground) December 13th, 2022
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved updated bivalent booster vaccines for COVID that add Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 components to the vaccines to increase protection against newer variants that are currently circulating in our communities.
“COVID-19 remains prevalent in our communities. Winter is coming, and like last year, we anticipate an increase in cases. The updated COVID-19 boosters can help protect us all,” said Lexi Eller, MD, Intermountain Healthcare associate medical director for women’s health and a maternal-fetal medicine physician.
“The latest data continues to suggest the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and staying up to date on boosters outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy. Nationwide organizations of OB/Gyns and maternal fetal medicine specialists strongly recommend the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters for women who are thinking about getting pregnant, are currently pregnant, were recently pregnant, or are lactating,” she added.
The CDC reports cases of COVID-19 in symptomatic, pregnant people have a two-fold risk of admission into intensive care and a 70 percent increased risk of death, compared to non-pregnant people. Pregnant people with COVID-19 are also at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes that could include preterm birth, stillbirth, and admission of a newborn infected with COVID-19 into a neonatal ICU.
“With new COVID variants out there that may behave differently, we don’t know what’s coming. The best way to protect yourself and prevent severe illness, disease and hospitalization is to be fully vaccinated,” said Dr. Eller.
“What the CDC is describing are things that we’re seeing in our own practice. Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen our share of preterm birth, stillbirth and even neonatal deaths. Many pregnant women have been in the ICU and on ventilators and some have even required heart lung bypass with an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine,” she added.
“When we look at our numbers from over the last few months through October, and look at pregnant people who are delivering in the Intermountain Healthcare system in Utah, we’re finding that about only 46-48% of them have had a complete course of vaccination. We need to increase our vaccination and booster rates of pregnant people in Utah to help prevent people from having COVID and associated pregnancy and fetal complications,” she added.
According to a recent CDC survey, just 54% of pregnant people had completed their COVID-19 primary vaccination series. The survey found COVID booster vaccination rates are just 40 percent. The rate for these varies markedly by race and ethnicity.
When to get a booster
Individuals are eligible for a booster if it has been at least two months since completing their primary vaccination, or since their last booster. Individuals five years or older are eligible for a single booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine. Individuals six years or older can receive the Moderna COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine. Anyone that has had COVID should consider waiting six months before receiving a vaccine.
“You may choose either vaccine type if you are eligible, regardless of which primary series vaccine or original booster dose you had previously,” said Dr. Eller.
Dr. Eller and other healthcare officials are encouraging individuals to seek vaccination with these boosters that are widely available in the community. Doctor’s offices, local health departments, and pharmacies are offering these boosters.
Dr. Eller said side effects are similar to the primary doses of the vaccine, including injection site soreness and mild symptoms such as fever. Reports also say the booster dose of mRNA vaccines has a lower rate of rare myocarditis/pericarditis after vaccination.
If you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine or boosters talk to your doctor or midwife who knows your specific medical history and can help provide you with the most current evidence-based information to help you with your decision or visit https://intermountainhealthcare.org/COVID.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Headquartered in Utah with locations in eight states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Healthcare is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called SelectHealth with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information and updates, click here