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DHEC says all pregnant women should get COVID vaccine

The push cites a "strong body of evidence" that women, during and after pregnancy, are at a greater risk of severe illness.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — As many as eight medical organizations across South Carolina have signed on to a joint statement that urges pregnant women to get their COVID-19 vaccination.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) made the announcement at 1 p.m. Thursday, August 12, regarding the statement (you can read the full letter here) and the importance of getting vaccinated -- especially for expectant mothers and those who recently had children.

"There is now a strong body of evidence that women during and after pregnancy are at much greater risk for more severe illness due to COVID-19 than other people in their age group and are more likely to have major pregnancy complications," DHEC said.

Despite this, the joint statement suggests that less than 25% of pregnant women overall and less than 10% of women under 25 in the U.S. are fully vaccinated, leading to a push to have care providers "enthusiastically recommend vaccination."

The statement goes on to list a handful of recommendations that all who signed on to the letter agree with, including:

  • The continued encouragement of all pregnant women in South Carolina, including those who had been previously infected with COVID, to get vaccinated.
  • The providing of information about the safety and effectiveness of COVID vaccination to all pregnant women.
  • The encouragement of family members of pregnant women to get vaccinated.
  • The encouragement of pregnant women who choose not to get the vaccine to follow proper mask and distancing requirements and limit many group activities.
  • The awareness among practitioners who provide care to pregnant women of co-vaccination for COVID along with other vaccinations that are recommended during pregnancy.
  • The awareness among practitioners that pregnant women from communities of color are at higher risk for serious illness and pregnancy complications.
  • Encouragement of pregnant women who are vaccinated during or after pregnancy to participate in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) V-Safe system to enter "any relevant post-vaccination health information."

The letter comes one day after the CDC strengthened its recommendation for vaccination of pregnant women based on new evidence affirming the safety of vaccines during pregnancy. DHEC added that it also supports the CDC's recommendation.

In the meantime, doctors are concerned about the recent rise in cases.

"Clinicians have seen a rise in the number of pregnant people infected with COVID-19 in recent weeks," DHEC stated. "The dangers of the Delta variant – increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications – are too great to ignore."

In all, the letter was signed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, South Carolina Chapter; American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, South Carolina Chapter; South Carolina Children’s Hospital Collaborative; South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control; South Carolina Hospital Association; South Carolina Office of Rural Health; South Carolina Perinatal Association; and South Carolina Primary Health Care Association.