COVID-19 Roundup: Urgent Guidance for Pregnant Women to Get Vaccinated; Side Effects from Third Pfizer Shot ‘Mild to Moderate’; and More

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October 1, 2021


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CDC Issues Urgent Guidance for Pregnant Women to Get Vaccinated Against COVID

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued its strongest recommendation, calling for “urgent action” to increase the rate of vaccinations against COVID-19 among pregnant women.

As of September 27, 2021, more than 125,000 cases of COVID-19 cases have been reported in pregnant women, including more than 22,000 hospitalized cases and 161 deaths, the CDC reported in its new guidance. The highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in pregnant individuals in a single month of the pandemic was reported in August 2021, the agency stated.

“Despite the known risks of COVID-19, as of September 18, 2021, 31 percent of pregnant people were fully vaccinated before or during their pregnancy,” the CDC states.

Data indicate that approximately 97 percent of pregnant people hospitalized (either for illness or for labor and delivery) with confirmed COVID-19 were unvaccinated, the CDC stated.

“In addition to the risks of severe illness and death for pregnant and recently pregnant people, there is an increased risk for adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, including preterm birth,” the CDC adds. If premature babies are exposed to COVID, they are at greater risk of developing breathing issues because they already have compromised respiratory functions.

People with underlying health conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The CDC emphasizes that pregnancy is also considered an underlying health condition. The CDC’s vaccination guidance extends to women trying to become pregnant, and those who have recently given birth or who may be breastfeeding.

On July 30, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued updated guidance strongly recommending that all pregnant individuals get vaccinated against COVID-19.


CDC: Side Effects After Third Vaccine Shot Mostly Mild to Moderate, Similar to Those After 2nd Shot

A survey of nearly 12,600 people who received a third dose, or booster, of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine reported similar side effects, and about at the same rates, as they did after their second shots, according to new research released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“No unexpected patterns of adverse reactions were observed …” the CDC study’s authors concluded. “Most reported local and systemic reactions were mild to moderate, transient, and most frequently reported the day after vaccination.”

Of the participants who voluntarily completed a health check-in survey after all three doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, 79 percent and 74 percent, reported local or systemic reactions, respectively. After the third dose; 77.6 percent reported local reactions and 76.5 percent reported systemic reactions after the second dose.

The health surveys were completed from August 12 through September 19, 2021. The participants used V-safe, a voluntary, smartphone-based U.S. “safety surveillance system,” the CDC said. Vaccinated persons eligible to receive authorized or licensed vaccine products may register in V-safe, the agency said.

During the time period of the survey, third doses were only authorized for people with compromised immune systems who had received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the CDC authorized Pfizer booster shots for a much broader segment of the general population.

The CDC states that people 65 years and older, and residents in long-term care settings — as well as those aged 49–64 years with underlying medical conditions — “should” get third doses, or booster shots, of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after being fully vaccinated.

The CDC adds that the following “may” get the third dose of the Pfizer vaccine:

People aged 18-49 years with underlying medical conditions; and people aged 18-64 who are “at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting.”


‘Long COVID’ Symptoms can Persist or Recur in One-Third of All Infected, New Study Finds

Symptoms of COVID-19 can persist or recur months after initial diagnosis in more than a third of all people who get infected, according to a large-scale new study that apparently shows that “long COVID” cases are more common than previously thought.

The study, led by University of Oxford scientists in the United Kingdom, concluded that about 36 percent of those monitored reported lingering or recurring COVID-like symptoms three and six months after diagnosis. Most previous studies have indicated that COVID symptoms can persist in 10 percent to 30 percent of patients.

In the study, published this week in the journal PLOS Medicine, researchers used data from electronic health records of 273,618 patients diagnosed with COVID-19. They estimated the risk of having long-COVID features in the 6 months after a diagnosis of COVID-19.

They compared the risk of long-COVID features in different groups within the population, and also compared the risk to that after influenza (the flu). More than 114,400 patients diagnosed with the flu were part of the control group to compare the persistence or recurrence of symptoms. 

“The research found that over 1 in 3 patients had one or more features of long-COVID recorded between 3 and 6 months after a diagnosis of COVID-19,” the study states. “This was significantly higher than after influenza.” Of those patients, 40 percent who had long-COVID features in the 3- to 6-month period, “had no record of any such feature in the previous 3 months.”

The risk of long-COVID was higher in patients who had more severe illness, and slightly higher among females and young adults.

The study’s authors added that the majority of patients who had long-COVID symptoms in the 3- to 6-month period already had symptoms in the first 3 months — and that “may help in identifying those at greatest risk.”

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