INDIANAPOLIS — The CDC is issuing its strongest recommendation yet urging pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Doctors say local hospitals are filling up with unvaccinated patients and many of them are pregnant.
“These people are young and healthy. They are not 80 years old. They are not people that lived these long lives with complex medical conditions. They are just pregnant,” said Dr. Stacy Schmiedke, a maternal fetal medicine physician at Ascension St. Vincent.
Being a new mom, Schmiedke gets that her patients have a lot of questions and concerns.
“It’s very understandable and, as a pregnant patient myself in 2020 and I am still breastfeeding my 1-year-old, I can get how people are like, ‘Really? Should I be doing this since it’s so fast and it feels so new,’” she said.
Schmiedke said she reminds her patients that studies with pregnant people have shown it’s safe and effective for those expecting.
“We now are in a position where we have the data to say this is not only safe in pregnancy and breastfeeding, but it is vitally important,” she said. “We cannot exclude pregnant patients from the vaccine because these are the people that are in our ICUs, and we are having to make such difficult decisions about their care.”
Right now, only 31 percent of pregnant people are fully vaccinated.
As of Sept. 27, the CDC reported 125,000 cases with more than 22,000 patients hospitalized and 161 deaths—22 of those deaths happened in August. It was the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic.
Experts say the infection not only affects the patient but also their baby.
“Often times the infection can cause pre-term labor and then delivery. Sometimes the decision is made to deliver the baby early so they can optimize the care for the mother,” said Dr. Indy Lane, an OB/GYN at Community Hospital North.
She said it can also lead to tough decisions for families.
“It’s devastating to have a loss of life of any sort, but again, when you are making the decision between a woman and her baby, it’s heart-wrenching,” Dr. Lane said.
Doctors are pleading that people talk to their physician if they have questions or concerns, saying it’s best not to wait.
“I have no agenda besides making sure moms and their babies are safe,” Schmiedke said.
The CDC is encouraging not just those that are pregnant to get vaccinated, but also those who might become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
Right now, there is no research that shows the vaccine decreases fertility in women or men.