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New study finds risk of severe illness, pregnancy loss for unvaccinated pregnant people

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The World Health Organization
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Rochelle Walensky
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The New York Times
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The CDC has urged pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.What pregnant people need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine A new study has added to the body of research showing the risks unvaccinated pregnant people face amid the coronavirus pandemic.Unvaccinated pregnant people with COVID-19 and their newborn babies have a higher risk of complications from the disease, like hospitalizations and newborn deaths, compared to those who are vaccinated, according to the study, published Thursday in Nature Medicine.The study, led by researchers in Scotland, found that unvaccinated pregnant people who contracted COVID not only had a risk of more severe illness themselves, but also were more likely to experience pregnancy loss or preterm birth compared to other women.Like the United States, Scotland is also facing a low vaccination rate among pregnant people, leading the researchers to conclude, "Addressing low vaccine uptake in pregnant women is imperative to protect the health of women and babies."As of Jan. 8, around 40% of all pregnant people ages 18-49 years-old in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated, prior to or during pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to over 70% of the general population.In December, the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told ABC News in an interview she was "very concerned" about those who remain unvaccinated, particularly pregnant people."I can tell you, when I hear about a pregnant woman in the community who is not vaccinated, I personally pick up the phone and talk to them," said Walensky, who led the CDC in issuing an "urgent health advisory" in September calling on pregnant people to get vaccinated.Since the start of the pandemic, the CDC reports there have been more than 150,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in pregnant people, including nearly 26,000 hospitalizations and 257 deaths.Here is what pregnant and breastfeeding people may want to know about the COVID-19 vaccines to help them make informed decisions.1. What are health groups saying about the COVID-19 vaccine?In August, the CDC strengthened its recommendation for COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, citing new evidence of safety with the vaccines.The nation's two leading health organizations focused on the care of pregnant people -- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) -- also issued new guidelines calling on all pregnant people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.In their joint recommendation issued in July, ACOG and SMFM said pregnant people should "feel confident" in getting vaccinated against COVID-19."ACOG is recommending vaccination of pregnant individuals because we have evidence of the safe and effective use of the vaccine during pregnancy from many tens of thousands of reporting individuals, because we know that COVID-19 infection puts pregnant people at increased risk of severe complications, and because it is clear from the current vaccination rates that people need to feel confident in the safety and protective value of the COVID-19 vaccines,” ACOG president Dr. J.

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