SC doctors encouraging pregnant South Carolinians to get vaccinated against COVID-19

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — Doctors with Prisma Health said they are encouraging their unvaccinated pregnant and postpartum patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

This comes just a few days after the CDC strongly recommended the vaccine for pregnant people in the US and as reported hospitalizations of unvaccinated pregnant women in South Carolina spikes.

According to the CDC, a new study assessed vaccination early in pregnancy and did not find an increased risk of miscarriage among nearly 2,500 pregnant women who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. “The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people.”

The CDC said studies also shows the known severe risks of COVID-19 during pregnancy demonstrate that the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant people outweigh any known or potential risks.

Dr. Kacey Eichelberger with Prisma Health-Upstate said, “We can now say, unequivocally, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant women, breastfeeding women and women who are planning to become pregnant.”

According to Prisma Health officials, pregnant women are already at a higher risk of severe illness than other people in their age group and said the current situation is putting more pregnant women at risk. They said over the last few weeks, they’ve seen an increase in the number of pregnant mothers infected with COVID-19 at their hospitals. They have also had to deliver babies in the ICU almost daily during this recent surge.

Prisma Health said in the Midlands 10% of all admissions are pregnant patients. Officials said half of those pregnant patients are critically ill. Dr. Eichelberger said at her hospital in the Upstate they have 11 pregnant patients with COVID-19 and many of them are in the ICU.

Hospital officials said the combination of the more contagious Delta variant along with low vaccination rates among pregnant patients has contributed to this. Doctor Berry Campbell with Prisma Health-Midlands said nationally, vaccination rates for pregnant mothers remains low, “Less than 25% of pregnant moms in the United States have been vaccinated. Less than 10% of women under the age of 25 have been vaccinated. Leaving a huge population at a tremendous risk totally uncovered.”

According to Dr. Campbell, postpartum patients have been some of their sickest patients they’ve seen. He recommends pregnant mothers get vaccinated as early as possible so they are protected before and after delivery.

Hospital officials said they’ve had to clear up many misconceptions and myths surrounding the vaccine with patients. Dr. Eichelberger said, “It feels like the disinformation campaign against this vaccine is stronger than anything I’ve had to contend with in my career to date.”

She said the studies shared by the CDC show the vaccine does not damage or enter the placenta, it’s not a live virus-vaccine or dead-virus vaccine, it does not increase miscarriage risk and does not impact fertility.

A group of health of top health organizations in South Carolina released a joint statement Thursday urging vaccinations for pregnant women.

Hospitals officials recommend speaking with your OB/GYN to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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