Dec 18, 2021 - Health

COVID-19 deaths among pregnant people surged amid Delta, CDC data show

Rochelle Walensky during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden and members of the White House Covid-19 Response Team on the Omicron variant in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky during a meeting with President Biden and members of the COVID-19 Response Team on the Omicron variant in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 9. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The number of pregnant people who died of COVID-19 surged in August and September as the Delta variant spread nationwide, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out this week.

Why it matters: The data underscore the importance of pregnant people receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, especially as the quickly emerging Omicron variant starts to spread, according to CDC director Rochelle Walensky.

Driving the news: More than two dozen deaths from COVID-19 among pregnant people were recorded in August and September of this year, according to the CDC.

  • Additionally, more than 40% of the 248 total deaths among pregnant people since the pandemic began occurred since August.
  • "I can tell you, when I hear about a pregnant woman in the community who is not vaccinated, I personally pick up the phone and talk to them," Walensky told ABC News' chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton earlier this month.
  • Walensky also told Ashton she is "very concerned" about pregnant people who remain unvaccinated as the Omicron variant spreads.

The big picture: The data come as COVID-19 vaccination rates among pregnant people continue to lag relative to the general population.

  • As of Dec. 4, the most recent data available, less than 35% of pregnant people are fully vaccinated, compared to nearly 61% of the general population, according to the CDC.
  • The vaccination rate among Black pregnant people is even lower, at around 22%, according to the CDC.
  • Pregnant people face a greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19, according to the CDC.

What they're saying: "This is one where I feel like we have to do more," Walensky said of the lagging vaccination rate among pregnant people.

  • "We have to do better," she said.

Go deeper: CDC issues urgent advisory calling on pregnant people to get COVID vaccine

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