The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pregnant people get a COVID-19 vaccine, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday.
Her comment follows a new study that found no safety concerns among a large group of pregnant people who received the vaccine in their third trimester, and no safety concerns for their babies.
“As such, CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Walensky said during a White House COVID-19 briefing. “We know that this is a deeply personal decision, and I encourage people to talk to their doctors or primary care providers to determine what is best for them and for their baby.”
The CDC vaccine guidelines online had not been updated by early Friday afternoon. The online guidelines said that pregnant women may receive a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available, and getting vaccinated is a personal choice, but did not say the vaccine is recommended.
CNN reached out to the CDC for further clarification.
On Wednesday, the New England Journal of Medicine published preliminary findings from CDC scientists that determined that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna do not appear to pose any serious risk during pregnancy.
Last month, another study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are effective in pregnant and lactating women, and they can pass protective antibodies to newborns.
Clinical trials of the vaccines did not include pregnant people so there was limited data on the safety of vaccination in pregnant people and babies. Scientists intend to follow up with the pregnant people in the study to assess the long-term safety of the vaccine during pregnancy
Fauci wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson & Johnson vaccinations continue
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was meeting Friday to discuss how to move forward with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after it was put on hold to investigate a potential link to serious blood clots.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said Thursday he wouldn’t be surprised if the committee decided to resume vaccinations like Europe did.
“I don’t want to get ahead of the CDC’s recommendation, but the European Medicines Agency — which asks the same question about the use of the J&J product in Europe — has made the determination that they will allow it to be given, because they feel that the risk of COVID-19 far outweighs the very rare, rare occurrence of this serious adverse event,” Fauci said in an interview with KCBS Radio San Francisco.
“They are letting the vaccine go out with a warning to people about what to look for, about what the risk is,” he added.
The two-dose mRNA vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna are made using different technology from J&J’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine and have not been linked to rare cases of blood clots.
States, tribes and territories have more than 9 million Johnson & Johnson doses on hand as they wait to see if federal health officials lift the J&J pause, President Joe Biden’s coronavirus adviser Jeff Zients told CNN.
New study shows why vaccinating everybody against COVID-19 is essential
Although there’s a growing sense that normalcy is within reach after the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, experts are continuing to push for more vaccinations — particularly as new research details the long-term consequences for those who are diagnosed with the virus.
In what the authors say is the largest study to date of the long-term impact, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that people who had COVID-19 seem to face a much greater risk of death and need more medical care in the six months after their diagnosis, even if they had a milder form of the disease.
“We have to think about the burgeoning health crisis this is going to cause for years to come,” CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta told Anderson Cooper on Thursday.
The US has been making strides in vaccinating the public, but tens of millions of Americans still haven’t started their inoculations and experts say the US needs much higher levels of vaccination to control the virus. And younger Americans, many of whom recently became eligible for a shot, are less likely than older residents to claim they have or will get vaccinated, a recent poll found.
But the Washington University study shows what many experts have said for much of the last year — you don’t want this virus, Gupta said.
Between one and six months after getting sick, patients who had COVID-19 had a 60% higher risk of death than those patients that never had COVID-19. Patients who had COVID-19 also had a 20% greater chance of needing more medical care over the six months after their diagnosis and more medication.
Unfortunately, the treatment options for long-haul COVID are limited, Dr Leana Wen told Cooper. But the good news is that in addition to preventing infections, the vaccines may reduce long haul symptoms, she said.
Gupta said there is still a lot experts are learning about the virus, its treatment and its implications down the road.
Study finds infectious variants still controlled by vaccines
One threat to getting the pandemic under control is the spread of more transmissible variants, but studies have found that vaccines still work to get them under control.
A pair of coronavirus variants first seen in California seems to replicate better in the noses of infected people, something that could explain their faster spread, researchers reported Thursday.
But tests of blood from people who had received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines indicate that while the variants are little less susceptible, the vaccines still protect people from them.
Examination of nose swabs showed there was twice as much virus in samples taken from people infected with the variants compared to people infected with older strains of the virus — an indication B.1.427/B.1.429 strains replicate better and something that explains why they would be more contagious.
But they are not as transmissible as the B.1.1.7 variant first seen in Britain — one that’s now the most common variant found in the US — the team also reported in the journal “Cell.”
Researchers still need to track the variants closely, the study showed, as blood tests showed that the B.1.427/B.1.429 variants can partly evade the immune response.
“Earlier identification and monitoring of the variant might have guided focused contact tracing efforts by public health to slow its spread, as well as enabled more timely investigation of its potential significance.”