CVS Health and the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine have debuted a suite of public service announcements that highlights the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.
The PSAs feature a range of clinical experts, including pharmacists, and drive home the message that giving your baby the best start in life begins with taking good care of yourself. Medical experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine before, during or after pregnancy. Pharmacists play an important role in COVID-19 vaccination, including patient education and vaccine administration.
The PSAs are an important public education tool because COVID-19 infection in pregnant people can be devastating. “We know that becoming infected with COVID-19 while pregnant leads to higher rates of hospitalization, ICU admission, ventilatory support, and even maternal death compared to non-pregnant people,” said Joanne Armstrong, MD, MPH, Vice President and CMO of Women’s Health and Genomics. Indeed, as of March 7, 2022, more than 187,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases had been reported in pregnant people, including more than 30,000 hospitalized cases and 293 deaths.
The PSAs are critically important in helping to increase adoption of the vaccine among pregnant people. Adoption has been slow, despite evidence of effectiveness and safety of the vaccine in pregnant people. Recent surveys show just 33% of all pregnant women—and only 17% of pregnant Black women—have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sandra Leal, PharmD, MPH, Vice President of Collaboration Innovation and Clinical Strategy, Aetna, co-led the PSA initiative, and emphasized the important role that pharmacists play in closing this education and access gap. “Pharmacists are one of the most trusted providers. Their accessibility is key to helping women answer questions, alleviate concerns, and conveniently obtain their vaccines when they are ready."
The COVID-19 virus may be unpredictable, but some things are very clear. Pregnant people are at risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 and are more likely to develop serious pregnancy problems. Pregnancy experts agree that getting the COVID-19 vaccine before, during or after pregnancy is safe and the best way to protect yourself, your baby and family.
For more information, watch the PSAs, and learn about one pregnant patient experience with COVID infection and share with others.