ATLANTA — Nearly 200 million people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of last week. However, vaccinations among pregnant women remain extremely low. Only one in every four pregnant women opt to get the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As the Delta variant drives a surge in hospitalizations, doctors said they're seeing more pregnant women get hospitalized due to the virus.
“We are seeing pregnant women succumb to complications and die from COVID-19, so I think it is really important time to get the vaccine and that it is safe," said 11 Alive medical correspondent Dr. Sujatha Reddy.
A Georgia-based health care system, Phoebe Putney, said they are seeing an alarming number pregnant women with COVID-19 get sicker, forcing them to perform more emergency C-sections.
“Every patient that has to be separated from their baby, every momma that has to be ventilated and go to the ICU -- that may in a few days not be around to raise their child that has just been born -- it really gets your attention," said Dr. William Sewell, Medical Director of Women’s & Children’s Health at Phoebe Putney.
In total, the CDC said there has been more than 109,000 reports of pregnant women testing positive for COVID-19, with more than 18,000 having to be hospitalized. The agency also said pregnant women who get the coronavirus are at a higher risk of getting severely ill than non-pregnant women who get the virus.
It's that kind of data that new mom Jamie Walden said encouraged her to get the vaccine.
“It's just a really happy and special time, and to not be able to fully experience that would just be devastating," explained Walden.
The small business owner of a Pure Barre Fitness studio and mother to a now 4-week-old said after looking at the data and speaking with her doctors, it was an easy decision for her and her family.
“We really sat down after getting information from doctors. For us, personally, the benefits outweighed the risks," added Walden.
Experts said the reluctance to get the shot has been widespread among pregnant women after they were excluded from the initial trials for Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. However, studies on pregnant and the vaccine began in February and the CDC said there has been no evidence to show a risk of miscarriage.