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Covid vaccination during pregnancy helps protect babies after birth: US study

WASHINGTON — Vaccinating pregnant women against the coronavirus may help prevent Covid-19 hospitalisations in infants after they are born, especially if the expecting mothers got the shots later in their pregnancy, United States (US) researchers reported on Tuesday (Feb 15).

Covid vaccination during pregnancy helps protect babies after birth: US study

A health worker inoculates a pregnant women with a dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

WASHINGTON — Vaccinating pregnant women against the coronavirus may help prevent Covid-19 hospitalisations in infants after they are born, especially if the expecting mothers got the shots later in their pregnancy, United States (US) researchers reported on Tuesday (Feb 15).

The findings shed light on whether the benefits of vaccination during pregnancy extend to infants who would be too young to receive vaccines.

Researchers from several paediatric hospitals and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at children under six months old between July 2021 and January 2022.

The study analysed data from 379 hospitalized infants — 176 with Covid-19 and 203 who were admitted for other issues. It found that Covid-19 vaccines were 61 per cent effective overall at preventing hospitalisations in children whose mothers were vaccinated during pregnancy.

That protection rose to 80 per cent when the mothers were vaccinated 21 weeks through 14 days before delivery. Vaccination effectiveness fell to 32 per cent for the babies whose mothers were inoculated earlier during pregnancy.

The study authors warned that the estimates for effectiveness earlier in pregnancy should be interpreted with caution due to the small sample size.

“Right now we want to ensure that we are protecting both the mom and the infant," CDC's Dana Meaney-Delman told reporters. "So as soon as a pregnant woman is willing to be vaccinated, she should so ahead and do so."

Pregnant women are at increased risk for severe illness from Covid-19, and having Covid during pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm birth, stillbirth and possibly other pregnancy complications, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends that women who are pregnant, are breastfeeding, are trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future get vaccinated and stay up to date with Covid-19 shots.

Previous studies have shown that Covid-19 vaccination during pregnancy was not associated with preterm delivery or underweight newborns. REUTERS

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Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination pregnancy

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