MILWAUKEE - Protecting yourself and your baby is why the CDC is urging pregnant women at any stage in the process to get vaccinated against COVID-19. While the delta variant continues to drive an increase in COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin, the vaccination focus is shifting to pregnant women.
"We are not seeing an increased rate of vaccination in pregnant women as a sub-group as we are across the board," said Dr. Fatima Ali, Ascension Wisconsin.
CDC data shows 56% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19; however, just over 31% of pregnant mothers have finished their vaccine series. It's a trend Ascension Wisconsin is looking to change.
"Pregnant women tend to be in that 18- to 35-year-old range," said Dr. Matthew Lee. "Their absolute risk is very low. However, by virtue of being pregnant, that increases that risk."
Dr. Ali works in Ascension Wisconsin's Obstetric Emergency Department and recently gave birth to a child herself. She shared her reasons for getting vaccinated, which she says has had no harm on her newborn.
"Working where I work and seeing pregnant sick women, some of them get very, very sick and require intensive care units, and then their baby requires a neonatal intensive care unit," said Ali. "That really pushed me into making this decision."
It's a decision that's helped protect her and her baby. Dr. Lee explained unvaccinated pregnant mothers are presenting stronger symptoms. While he understands skepticism, he says any protection against COVID-19 is what matters most.
"A lot of them do have questions about safety," said Dr. Lee. "Again, the right thing. A pregnant mom needs to be concerned about her baby inside. Vaccines are safe."
Both doctors say if you're on the fence about getting vaccinated, they advise you to talk to your primary care doctors to help decide what's best for you.