COVID-19 vaccine rates are lowest among pregnant women from minority groups, CDC says

Study: Only 6 percent of Black women who are pregnant and 11.9 percent of Latina pregnant women had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Credit: CDC.

Black and Latina women who are pregnant have been getting vaccines against COVID-19 at a lower rate compared with other ethnic and racial groups in Florida and across the country, according to a new report released Tuesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the report, federal health officials warned that pregnant women are at an increased risk of severe illness and death from the coronavirus, compared to nonpregnant women.

The CDC said that “current data about vaccination coverage and safety in pregnant women are limited” but pregnant women are eligible for vaccines.

Based on the study, data show that only 6 percent of Black women who are pregnant and 11.9 percent of Latina pregnant women had received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. Conversely, vaccination rates were the highest among Asian and white pregnant women, with 24.7 percent and 19.7 percent, respectively.

Vaccination rates were also low among younger pregnant women ages 18-24, with 5.5 percent receiving at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

That said, federal health officials are now pushing for more outreach regarding COVID-19 vaccines among pregnant women, especially to those from minority groups and younger populations to address disparities in vaccine distribution.

In fact, new data show that COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy can transfer antibodies to their newborns through breast milk or placenta, according to the report.

The CDC opined that low vaccine rates among pregnant women overall could be due to several factors including limited data available on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, inequities in access and availability, and “need for increased vaccine confidence among health care providers and pregnant women.”

Meanwhile, the CDC study called the “Vaccine Safety Datalink” involved a total of 135,968 pregnant women and was conducted from December of 2020 to May.

Data was analyzed in collaboration with multiple health systems “to assess receipt of at least one dose (first or second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines) or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine)” among pregnant women.

HealthPartners Institute, a non-profit health care organization that conducts research studies, was one of the organizations that collaborated with the CDC on the research project, according to a press release from the group.