MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A HealthPartners Institute researcher says a nationwide study shows an increasing uptake in COVID-19 vaccination among those who are pregnant, but there’s room for improvement, especially reaching those who are younger, Black and Hispanic.

The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed nearly 136,000 people who are pregnant around the nation and found that just 16.3% had received at least one vaccine dose. It also found vaccination rates are lower among younger people and some communities of color. Just 7.7% of Hispanic people who are pregnant and 3.7% of Black people who are pregnant were found to be completely vaccinated.

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Malini DeSilva, MD, is a co-author on the CDC report and an investigator at HealthPartners Institute in Bloomington, Minnesota.

“This data are telling us that there’s opportunity to increase COVID-19 vaccinations among people who are pregnant and at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 and poor birth outcomes if they contract the virus,” DeSilva said. “COVID-19 vaccines help protect those who are pregnant and they likely provide at least some protection to their babies, too. It’s important that health providers who care for patients who are pregnant have conversations about safety and protection, and hopefully we can increase vaccination rates.”

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The data, collected from Dec. 14, 2020 to May 8, 2021, found that vaccine uptake has been steadily increasing among those who are pregnant, likely reflecting the improved supply of vaccines and more data available validating the vaccines’ safety.

“If you’re pregnant or breast feeding and have questions about getting the COVID vaccine, talk to your care teams,” DeSilva said. “We have more evidence now about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines than even one month ago. Your provider will help you make informed decisions about vaccination.”

A recent study, cited in the HealthPartners press release, found that COVID-19 vaccines prompt a strong immune response in people who are pregnant and “likely provide protective benefits to babies, too.” Another study found that mRNA vaccines do no harm the placenta.

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