The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that those who are pregnant or breastfeeding become vaccinated against COVID-19, as studies show the available vaccines are safe and effective -- and contracting the coronavirus is far more dangerous. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The three currently available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in those who are pregnant, according to data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To date, "no safety concerns" during pregnancy have been reported in vaccine clinical trials or during the first eight-plus months of widespread use in the United States. And no evidence exists that the shots impact fertility, the data showed.
The two-dose vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna received emergency use authorizations in December, while the one-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson received that authorization early in February.
Full approval of one or more of the vaccines could come as soon as the end of this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday.
The COVID-19 vaccines also do not cause infections in recipients, including in those who are pregnant or their babies, as none of the three contain the live virus, the CDC said.
Rather, early data suggest that receiving the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines during pregnancy reduces a person's risk for infection, and that vaccination of pregnant people "builds antibodies that might protect their baby," according to the CDC.
Based on these findings, the agency is recommending that all people age 12 and older become vaccinated against COVID-19.
"CDC encourages all pregnant people or people who are thinking about becoming pregnant and those breastfeeding to get vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19," CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
"The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people," she said.
The guidance comes on the same day a study published by JAMA Network Open revealed that becoming infected with the virus during pregnancy raises the risk for preterm delivery.
Those who are pregnant also are believed to be at increased risk for severe COVID-19, according to data released by the CDC last summer.
Because of these risks, people who become pregnant in between receiving their first and second doses of a two-shot vaccine should complete the process for full inoculation, the agency said.
Although side effects can occur after receiving any of the available COVID-19 vaccines, especially after the second of the two-dose vaccines, those who are pregnant have not reported different side effects from non-pregnant people after inoculation with the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, CDC said.
Despite these positive findings, only about 20% of pregnant adults age 20 to 49 have been vaccinated against the virus, the agency estimates.
"The increased circulation of the highly contagious Delta variant, the low uptake among pregnant people and the increased risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications related to COVID-19 infection among pregnant people make vaccination for this population more urgent than ever," CDC said.