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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — As cases of the delta variant surge, healthcare agencies across the country are urging those who are still unvaccinated to get the shot. Among the unvaccinated are a large numbers of expecting mothers.

Less than a quarter of all pregnant women have received at least one dose of a vaccine since the beginning of August. But new guidance from the CDC could potentially give that number a bump.

“We are strongly recommending the COVID vaccine for pregnant women,” said Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children OBGYN Dr. Robin Cardwell.

Cardwell echoes the latest guidance from the CDC, which highly recommends pregnant women get vaccinated. The CDC had been more neutral on the debate until just days ago. Now, they cite a new study showing there is not an increased risk of miscarriage for vaccinated women.

“We’re starting to see more and more data coming out that backs up the safety and certainly when we look at the safety of the vaccine compared to the risks of COVID and pregnancy, the vaccine far outweighs the risk,” Cardwell said.

Those risks, Cardwell said, could greatly impact a pregnancy.

“We see increased risk in C-section, preterm delivery, and obviously that impacts the baby,” she said.

Not only does she worry about the health of a premature baby in the NICU, but even before the baby arrives, Cardwell fears for a COVID-positive mother-to-be:

“Pregnant women are at higher risk of being admitted to the hospital, they’re at higher risk for needing supplemental oxygen or being placed on a ventilator, they’re at higher risk for staying in the ICU and death compared to women in the same age group,” she said.

Right now in Huntsville Hospital, Cardwell said the delta variant is putting expecting mothers in that exact position.

“We are seeing more pregnant women coming in and being admitted with severe COVID symptoms in the last couple of weeks than the last several months,” she said. “We’re seeing it much more in younger women and it’s affecting them as well as their pregnancy.”

Cardwell said the trimester is not a deciding factor, she just says the sooner the better, as doctors are looking to get as many future mothers protected from the virus as they can, but still, not all are sold.

“I think people are being more receptive to the COVID vaccine than they have been in the past few months, but we certainly get a varying response,” she said.

Cardwell said one of the most common questions she gets relates to fertility.

“[they ask] Does this increase my risk for infertility? It does not. There is no data or science behind that thought process there,” she assured.

The CDC and those working at Huntsville Hospital for Women and Children are also recommending the vaccine to any unvaccinated woman who is looking to become pregnant as well.