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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

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Credit: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.