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MONDAY February 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Pregnant women have high rates of COVID-19 infection – especially women of color – and they should be on the front lines for vaccines across the United States, according to researchers.

“Our data indicates that pregnant women did not avoid the pandemic as we hoped, and that communities of color carried the greatest burden,” said Kristina Adams Waldorf, lead author of the study, gynecologist at the ‘University of Washington School of Medicine.

The researchers analyzed data from Washington state and estimated that the infection rate among pregnant women was 70% higher than among adults of a similar age range.

They also found that COVID-19 rates among pregnant women from communities of color were two to four times higher than expected, based on the race-ethnicity distribution of pregnant women in the state in 2018.

A large number of pregnant women with COVID-19 have also received their medical care in a language other than English, showing the critical need for public health awareness to increase vaccination rates in these communities, according to the study’s authors, published in February. 16 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“We have been disheartened to see the higher infection rates in communities of color, as well as in patients with limited English proficiency,” Adams Waldorf added in an academic press release.

Some states – including Texas, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Alaska – are prioritizing pregnant women for COVID-19 vaccines in Phase 1B of the schedule, but many others do not, have noted the researchers.

“Vaccine distribution plans vary a bit, state by state, and pregnant women are excluded from the allocation prioritization in about half of US states. Many states do not even link their COVID-19 vaccine allocation plans with the high-risk medical system. conditions listed by the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] – which include pregnancy, ”said Adams Waldorf.

“The higher infection rates in pregnant patients, associated with a high risk of serious illness and maternal mortality from COVID-19, suggest that pregnancy should be considered a high-risk health problem for the patient. allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine in phase 1B United States, ”she added. “It’s time to act.”

Pregnant women should discuss the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccination with their antenatal care provider, Adams Waldorf said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on pregnant women and the COVID-19 vaccination.

SOURCE: University of Washington, press release, February 16, 2021