Following the lead of federal officials, Los Angeles County health officials Wednesday urged pregnant women and new mothers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid severe illness from the virus or adverse outcomes to their pregnancies.
The county Department of Public Health called on health-care providers to convey the risks of COVID-19 to women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant or who might become pregnant in the future to get vaccinated.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a similar call Wednesday for pregnant women to get vaccinated. The agency reported that only 31% of pregnant women nationwide are fully vaccinated. Health officials have denounced suggestions that COVID vaccines are potentially harmful to pregnant women or could cause infertility.
“It is troubling to see the low rates of vaccination among pregnant women given the increased risk of serious COVID illness associated with pregnancy for the mother-to-be and her newborn,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “We encourage pregnant women to talk with their doctor or midwife to get the facts about how they can best protect themselves from the virus. Sadly, misinformation continues to circulate leading to avoidable tragedies for moms and their babies.”
According to the county, 12,944 pregnant women in the county have tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic, and 12 of them have died. Of the 12,719 cases for which testing information was available, 62 infants born to infected mothers also tested positive for the virus. Nationally, there have been more than 125,000 reported cases of COVID- 19 among pregnant women, with 22,000 of them being hospitalized and 161 deaths. According to the CDC, 97% of the pregnant women hospitalized with COVID were unvaccinated.
Los Angeles County reported another 31 COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, raising the overall death toll from the virus to 26,078. Another 1,436 cases were also confirmed, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,457,672. According to state figures, there were 871 COVID-positive patients in Los Angeles County hospitals as of Wednesday, down from 892 on Tuesday. There were 249 people in intensive care, a drop from 263 on Tuesday.
The number of COVID-positive people hospitalized in the county has fallen 27 times in the past 30 days, bringing the number down from a summer peak of nearly 1,800. The rolling average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus remained low, at about 1.2%. As of Sept. 23, 77% of eligible county residents aged 12 and over had received at least one dose of vaccine, and 69% are fully vaccinated.
On Tuesday, Ferrer told the county Board of Supervisors the pace of people getting vaccinated needs to accelerate to bring an end to the pandemic.
“Time is no longer on our side,” Ferrer said. “We’ve been here before. During early fall 2020, community transmission was low, until then it wasn’t. Last winter was brutal. And given the unpredictability of the virus and its variants, we need to accelerate the pace of vaccinations, since this is the most effective tool we have to prevent another deadly surge.”
“So for those not yet vaccinated, please reassess your decision and factor in the 26,000 residents that have died of COVID,” Ferrer said.