With increases in COVID-19 infections and variants being reported in Orange County and throughout the country, protecting yourself and your baby from COVID-19 is more important than ever.
Increased Risk for Severe Illness
Studies have shown that pregnant and recently pregnant women (for at least 42 days following end of pregnancy) are at increased risk for severe illness compared with nonpregnant women. Although the overall risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is low in general, pregnant or recently pregnant women are more likely to have complications such as hospitalization, going into labor and delivering the baby early (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), needing intensive care or breathing support with a machine (ventilator), and/or death.
Certain other underlying medical conditions or factors can further increase a pregnant or recently pregnant woman’s risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness. These include:
- Having certain underlying medical conditions
- Being older than 25 years
- Living or working in a community with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, including Orange County
- Living or working in a community with low levels of COVID-19 vaccination
- Working in places where it is difficult or not possible to keep at least 6 feet apart from people who might be sick
Protecting Yourself and Your Baby – Getting Vaccinated
Fortunately, we have effective vaccines to protect against COVID-19 and we now have data about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reviewed evidence from more than 35,000 women who were vaccinated during pregnancy and did not find any obvious safety concerns. COVID-19 vaccines do NOT and CANNOT cause infection, and cannot make anyone sick with COVID-19 since they do NOT contain live virus. There is NO evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men.
In addition to protecting moms and potentially preventing the complications of severe infection, COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy may also provide your newborn baby some protection through antibodies passed in the womb.
COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for all people 12 years and older, including people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant, or might become pregnant in the future.
- To find available COVID-19 vaccine in Orange County, see https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-channels.
- If you are pregnant and have questions about your pregnancy and getting vaccinated, contact your health care provider. If you would like to speak to someone about COVID-19 vaccination in general during pregnancy, you can contact MotherToBaby. MotherToBaby experts are available to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or chat. This free and confidential service is available Monday–Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (local time). To reach MotherToBaby:
- Call 1-866-626-6847
- Chat live or send an email MotherToBaby (https://mothertobaby.org/ask-an-expert/)
- For more information: CDC COVID-19 Vaccines While Pregnant or Breastfeeding (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html)
Even if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should continue to wear a mask indoors in public places while community transmission of COVID-19 is high.
Protecting Yourself and Your Baby – Other Steps You Can Take to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
In addition to getting vaccinated against COVID-19, there are other steps you can take to protect yourself and others from getting COVID-19:
- Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouthto help protect yourself and others.
- Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.
- Limit in-person interactions with people who might have been exposed to COVID-19, including people within your household, as much as possible. If you or someone in your household is sick with COVID-19, follow guidance for isolation.
Other Information to Help You Stay Healthy
It is important that you and your family keep all your recommended appointments with your health care provider and stay up-to-date on all recommended vaccines. If you’re concerned about going to your appointments in person because of COVID-19, ask your health care professional what steps they are taking to protect patients from COVID-19, or ask about telemedicine options.
For more information:
- Orange County COVID-19 Resources and Updates
- Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People at Increased Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19
- COVID-19 Toolkit for Pregnant People and New Parents
- Information about COVID-19 Vaccines for Women who Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding
- Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns if You Have COVID-19
- How to Protect Yourself & Others
- What to Do If You Are Sick
- Coping with Stress