Roundup: CDC Update on COVID-19 and Pregnancy; Concerning Lag in 'Routine' Childhood Vaccinations; and Heart Inflammation Cases

CDC: More Pregnant Women Should be Getting Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Pregnant women are at increased risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19, compared with nonpregnant women of reproductive age, say U.S. public health officials. But a new review of data by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that only 16.3 percent of pregnant women have received at least one shot of the three U.S.-approved COVID-19 vaccinations.

The new CDC analysis is the first in the U.S. to assess COVID-19 vaccination coverage among pregnant women.

The CDC states that emerging data regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, specifically mRNA vaccines (from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna), “have detected no safety signals for pregnant women.” In early data from three of the CDC’s vaccine safety monitoring systems, no safety concerns were identified for vaccinated pregnant women or their infants, the U.S. agency states.

In its latest analysis, the CDC used data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), a collaboration between the CDC and several U.S. healthcare systems, to determine how many pregnant women received one or more doses of COVID-19 vaccines (a first or second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). From Dec. 14, 2020 to May 8, 2021, a total of 135,968 pregnant women were identified, 22,197 (16.3 percent) of whom had received one or more doses of a vaccine during pregnancy. Among these 135,968 women, 7,154 (5.3 percent) had initiated and 15,043 (11.1 percent) had completed vaccination during pregnancy.

“Even though COVID-19 vaccination coverage has been increasing, Black and Hispanic women still have the lowest vaccination coverage among all racial and ethnic groups,” the CDC states.

Although low, COVID-19 vaccination coverage among pregnant women is expected to increase as vaccine availability and access improve, the CDC said. Nonetheless, “addressing barriers to access as well as augmenting the scientific evidence regarding safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy are critical,” the U.S. agency added.

Lag in Routine Childhood Vaccinations May Pose ‘Serious Public Health Threat,’ Health Officials Say

A lag in routine vaccinations for children — which are required for attendance at most schools, camps and day care centers — during the pandemic “might pose a serious public health threat that would result in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks,” warns the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A review of immunization data systems from 10 U.S. jurisdictions indicated “a substantial decrease” in administered vaccine doses during March–May 2020 compared with the same period during 2018 and 2019, the CDC states.

“Although administered doses increased during June–September 2020, this increase was not sufficient to achieve catch-up coverage,” the U.S. agency added.

This lag in childhood vaccinations “might pose a serious public health threat that would result in vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, especially in schools that have reopened for in-person learning,” the CDC said.

During the past few decades, the U.S. has achieved a substantial reduction in the prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases driven primarily by recommended pediatric vaccines. These efforts need to continue — even during the COVID-19 pandemic — to reduce the morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Parents are urged to contact their pediatricians to make sure their children are fully vaccinated against numerous diseases.

The CDC says the following routinely recommended childhood and adolescent vaccines, by targeted age groups, were analyzed:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) for children aged 0–23 months and children aged 2–6 years;
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) for children aged 12–23 months and children aged 2–8 years;
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) for children aged 9–12 years and adolescents aged 13–17 years;
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) for adolescents aged 13–17 years.

CDC Advisors to Meet on Heart Inflammation Cases Among Some Vaccinated Young Adults

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will hold a meeting of its advisers next week to discuss rare — but higher-than-expected — cases of heart inflammation following the complete two doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

The CDC has identified close to 300 reports that may be cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or pericarditis (inflammation of the outer lining of the heart). The vast majority of these individuals, mostly involving male teens and men under the age of 30, have recovered, but 41 had ongoing symptoms, 15 were still hospitalized, and three were in the intensive care unit, the CDC said in its last update.

Myocarditis and pericarditis typically can be successfully treated and monitored. But public health officials are analyzing these cases to see if there’s a link to the vaccines. In cases of myocarditis or pericarditis, the body’s immune system causes inflammation in response to an infection or some other trigger.

These cases represent a fraction of the nearly 130 million Americans who have been fully vaccinated with either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. However, the numbers in this age group are slightly higher than expected.

“CDC and its partners are actively monitoring these reports, by reviewing data and medical records, to learn more about what happened and to see if there is any relationship to COVID-19 vaccination,” the CDC states. “Most patients who received care responded well to medicine and rest and quickly felt better.”

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