The following is a statement from Christopher Zahn, MD, FACOG, vice president of Practice Activities for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
“Prior to the release of the CDC’s Nov. 19 reports on the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy, we knew that the virus posed an increased risk to pregnant individuals for severe illness and even death; that’s why ACOG has strongly recommended vaccination against COVID-19 for all those who are pregnant, recently pregnant, or planning to become pregnant.
“These latest data show that the Delta variant has unfortunately exacerbated that risk, increasing the likelihood that someone who is pregnant, unvaccinated and COVID positive will end up in the ICU and need mechanical ventilation, and in the worst cases die. It also provides us with additional evidence indicating that stillbirth is potentially another devastating, adverse outcome for pregnant people who contract COVID-19.
“The alarming increases in maternal deaths over the summer, unfortunately, don’t make these findings surprising. It was clear that the Delta variant was having a more detrimental effect on those who contracted it. It was also clear that the ill effects from the virus were mainly impacting those who were not vaccinated. This information is valuable because it adds to the collective pool of information obstetrician-gynecologists, other clinicians, and patients need to understand the possible effects of COVID-19 infection during pregnancy. It also provides further evidence for clinicians to effectively counsel current and future pregnant individuals about the real risks of COVID-19, and the incredible importance of vaccination. While masking and social distancing are helpful preventive measures, we can say unequivocally that COVID-19 vaccination is the only reliable way for pregnant individuals to protect themselves, their families and their pregnancies.”