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CDC recommends COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women

The CDC is recommending that pregnant women get vaccinated for COVID-19, but not many are getting the shot.

PORTLAND, Oregon — Eva Penor and her partner found out they were expecting their first child right before the COVID-19 vaccine became available. 

Her partner got the shot but Penor wanted to hold off. 

"[I was] kind of worried cause there hadn't been studies as far as pregnant people were concerned," said Penor. "So initially we were like, let's wait it out."

Since April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the shot for pregnant women, although people who are pregnant were excluded from the initial clinical trials of the three COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use in the U.S. 

Significant research since then has shown the shots to be safe and effective for pregnant women, and the Pfizer vaccine received full FDA approval earlier this week.

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"Especially when they came out and said babies were getting the antibodies, that was like huge," said Penor, who ended up getting the shot last month.

Dr. Bukhosi Dube with the Oregon Health Authority said that was a good decision since pregnancy increases complications from COVID-19.

"What we have seen is that women who get COVID after getting vaccinated, if they were in the rare case of a breakthrough case, they do much, much better than women who have not been vaccinated  and their babies much much better," explained Dr. Dube

But, so far the CDC reports that only 23.8% of pregnant women in the U.S. are vaccinated. The percentage is even lower among Black and Latina women. 

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Earlier this month, the CDC formally recommended that all pregnant women get vaccinated against the virus. "You are better off if you're pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant to get vaccinated to protect yourself and protect your baby," said Dr. Dube.

Penor doesn't regret getting the shot and hopes to her decision reassures other mothers to-be. 

"If it's being recommended by your doctors or medical team, I say go for it," said Penor, "because ultimately you're protecting yourself and others."