New research shows that COVID-19 vaccines not only offer protection to pregnant woman and their unborn children, but also to their children after birth.
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control found that women who receive two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine during their pregnancy appear to pass on the antibodies to their baby.
And babies whose mothers had been inoculated while they were gestating were 61% less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 during their first six months, compared to the infants of mothers who hadn’t been vaccinated.
“The bottom line is that maternal vaccination is a really important way to help protect these young infants,” Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, chief of the CDC’s Infant Outcome Monitoring, Research and Prevention branch, said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
The data, she said, “is highly welcome, particularly in the backdrop of the recent increase in hospitalizations among very young children” who can’t yet get vaccinated.
The researchers looked at data from 379 infants at 20 pediatric hospitals across 17 states between July 2021 and January 2022. Of that group, 179 of the babies contracted COVID-19, with nearly all — 84% — born to mothers who had not been vaccinated.
The researchers found that the protection appeared to be stronger in mothers who were vaccinated after 21 weeks of pregnancy, but the CDC emphasized that they should not wait to get vaccinated due to the potential complications. Recent studies have found that unvaccinated pregnant women are more likely to get severely sick with COVID-19 and their chances of hospitalization and dying, along with giving birth preterm or having a stillbirth, all increase significantly.
The researchers did not look into the effects of booster shots, nor how people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccines fared, but they intend to do that in another study. Still, study co-author Dr. Manish Patel expects the protection to be significant.
“I think it’s fair to say from all of the evidence on boosters increasing protection and antibody levels, that we should see higher protection, definitely not lower protection with boosters,” he told NPR.
That’s just one more reason to get vaccinated so we can hopefully begin to put COVID behind us.