Vaccine hesitancy among pregnant women continues as doctors report rising COVID-19 hospitalizations

Earlier report from CDC shows only 11% of pregnant women got fully vaccinated

ORLANDO, Fla. – Doctors with AdventHealth are urging their pregnant or soon-to-be expectant patients to get vaccinated due to a high number of severe hospitalizations from COVID-19.

The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more than 80% of women are still unsure about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Doctors say pregnant women are still nervous about getting the vaccine.

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“Nearly every day someone will call and say I’m thinking of getting pregnant, can I go ahead and get the vaccine? And we say ‘yes,’” Medical Director of obstetrics and gynecology at AdventHealth Medical Group Dr. Ashley Hill said.

Hill said misinformation about the shot is still swirling.

“I think that’s what we have here, it’s just a myth that somehow got out and got loose, and someone got a hold of it and just in the digital world. One piece of information can go crazy and go viral,” Hill said.

A CDC report shows between December 2020 to May 2021 just 11% of pregnant moms were fully vaccinated.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence that any of the available COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or impact a woman’s menstrual cycles.

“So it’s just honestly this constant battle raging in my mind of like, ‘should I get it, should I not get it,’” Julia Incinelli said.

Incinelli is 27 weeks pregnant and said after a previous miscarriage the decision to get the shot during this pregnancy has not been easy.

“So I’m like, ‘OK what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen?’ I lose this, I lose my daughter, and while I know the chances of that are remote, it still has me feeling hesitant about the vaccine because it’s not FDA approved,” Incinelli said.

Incinelli is seeing a midwife for her prenatal care who has recommended she get the COVID-19 vaccine.

She said she is feeling more reassured about meeting her daughter with every passing week.

“With cases being on the rise and having baby showers planned and like being around a bunch of people I haven’t seen in a while that aren’t in my normal circle, I’m just like ‘Well, what’s the harm in just getting it? ‘So long story short, I’m still very conflicted,” Incinelli said.

On Monday, AdventHealth Orlando Chief Medical Officer Dr. Victor Herrera said COVID-19 hospitalizations are near an all-time high. About 90% of more than 900 patients currently hospitalized are unvaccinated, Herrera said.

Herrera specifically addressed vaccine hesitancy among women who are looking to get pregnant or are currently pregnant.

Herrera said the hospital is currently caring for a pregnant woman who is intubated in the ICU. The hospital is now seeing more pregnant women with COVID-19 than the previous surges in cases.

“We want to encourage pregnant women to think about vaccination,” Herrera said. “Again, we don’t know yet if this is related to the delta variant, but clearly there is a higher number of pregnant women very sick with COVID-19 right now compared to before.”

Hill encourages all pregnant women to call their doctors if they have questions about the vaccine.

“We would certainly much rather you be reassured with medical advice from an actual doctor, then from some random person on the internet who may not know the answer,” Hill said.

“It’s frustrating because I just want somebody to give me a straight answer, but again, that’s honestly the blessing of having informed consent, and you being able to make your own medical decisions, is that no one can force it upon you,” Incinelli said.

Incinelli said she is strongly considering getting a COVID-19 vaccine.